FINALLY! Fall has made it’s way to Los Angeles! Hooray!
Though it’s a bit concerning to me that daytime temperatures can drop 25 degrees in less than 3 days—I’m so relieved that the heat wave is over that I really don’t care how it happened.
I’m excited to pull my purple pea coat, my scarves, and other layering materials out of the closet! And even though the blazing hot weather is gone – I’ve found myself sleeping with the window wide open – so that the cold air blows into my room at night, and I can burrow down under my quilt, all nice and snuggly. :)
I was so excited to cook with lamb for the first time, I actually made this stew a few weeks ago during the heat wave. I even did some research and went to an actual butcher shop in the farmer’s market near the Grove, since I wasn’t able to find any of the lamb tips that they ‘supposedly carry’ at Trader Joe’s, but are always out of when I want them. But now that it’s really fall – I thought a few more of you might like to give this recipe a try.
I made a few slight variations to the recipe from the website.
3 lbs boneless lamb leg, cut into 1 inch pieces (shoulder is better, but it’s hard to find a place that will sell you only half a shoulder and I didn’t want like 6 or 7 pounds of meat!)
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp seasoned pepper
2 Tbs all purpose flour
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (or use baby carrots like I did- about 2 handfuls)
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups (or one 32 oz container) of beef broth
1 lbs potatoes of your choice (I used fingerling)
1Tbsp chopped FRESH rosemary (trust me-use FRESH!)
1 cup coarsely chopped leeks
When I went to the butcher’s, he asked me what I was buying lamb for. When I told him, “I’m going to make stew,” he offered to cut it into 1 inch chunks for me! That definitely saved me some time and grief, trying to figure out how to chop up 3 pounds of meat! When I opened my package at home, it looked like this:
So I trimmed off the big hunks of fat, until it looked all nice and pretty like this:
First thing – mix the flour, salt and pepper.
Then dust the lamb with the flour mixture and coat evenly (mix it up with your hands!).
Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan.
Then add lamb chunks, in small groupings. Brown the lamb evenly on all sides, about 2-3 minutes each side. Doesn’t need to be cooked through, just browned. Make sure the pieces don’t touch, in the pan. You’ll probably have to do a few batches. When the chunks are browned, place them in the crock pot.
Deglaze the pan in between batches of lamb as needed. When the flour mixture gets crusted on the bottom of the pan, add a bit of the broth, and scrape the bottom so that the flour mixture dissolves into the broth. Pour this thickened broth into the crock pot as you go.
Once all the lamb is browned, add a bit more olive oil to the sauce pan, and sautee the onion until it starts to soften. Then add about half of the lamb chunks and the rest of the beef broth and let it simmer all together until the broth thickens a bit, but before the onions are totally translucent.
Pour this mixture into the crock pot.
Trim the leaves off of one stem of rosemary, and dice them. Measure out 1 Tbs of chopped leaves (might be more than 1 stem).
Coarsley chop the leeks (sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this part!) and toss the leeks and rosemary into the crockpot. Cover the crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours, or until meat is fork tender.
According to the original recipe, you can also make this stew in less time on the stovetop. But since it was my first time cooking with lamb, and I know it’s easy to overcook it and make the lamb tough, I figured the crock pot was a safer choice.
Based on other recipes I saw, you can also dice the veggies and put them in the bottom of the crock pot (under the meat/onion mixture). But I found a lot of mixed reviews online about crock pot veggies, especially potatoes. They said that often the veggies come out too soft, or not cooked through at all–so I decided to cook my veggies separately, and pour the stew over the top.
And for those of you, like me, who’ve never seen a parsnip – it’s the long white veggie in the middle of the cutting board here. Kind of resembles a carrot.
Here’s what the parsnip looks like after you peel it (and you MUST peel it).
Dice your parsnip and potatoes (if you so choose), and toss them in a bowl. In a separate dish, combine 1 Tbs olive oil, some fresh rosemary, salt, pepper and 1tsp of crushed garlic (or 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic).
Pour the olive oil and herb mixture over the veggies and toss them gently until they are evenly coated.
Then spread them out evenly, in a single layer, on a foil covered baking sheet or a glass casserole dish.
Bake the veggies in the oven at 475 F for approximately 20 minutes. Stirring half way through.
Apologies for the weird formatting and fuzzy pictures towards the end. For some reason, the formatting won’t allow for more spaces between the photos! AND–and lighting in my kitchen is terrible. But I figured it would be nice to see (even a fuzzy version) of what these things look like!
To serve, place a serving of the roasted veggies in a bowl, scoop out some stew and pour it on top–and voila!
A delicious, savory stew. Perfect for fall evenings! I recommend making home made biscuits or bread to go with your stew. It’s great to dip the bread into the broth as you go–or use it to sop up the extra juices at the end. Yummy!