Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables
A classic of French cooking, simple lamb stew is a meal in itself with a tossed green salad and some crusty bread. This version is flavorful with herbs and garlic, and sauteing the vegetables separately rather than cooking them with the meat keeps them brightly colored. The stew part of the recipe may be made up to 2 days in advance and kept refrigerated. Heat the stew and prepare the vegetables just before serving.
- Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
- Lamb shanks - 2-1/2 pounds, boneless, or lamb stew meat, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch chunks
- Onion - 1 large, peeled and diced
- Carrots - 2, peeled and diced
- Garlic Heads - cloves from 1 whole garlic head, minced
- Celery Stalks - 4, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Tomato paste - 3 tablespoons
- Fresh parsley sprigs - 4
- Fresh thyme sprigs - 1
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Dry white wine - 1 bottle
- Tomatoes - 4 large, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-unch chunks
- Lamb Stock - 2 cups, or veal stock, or water
- Carrots - 3, tourneed, or peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- Turnips - 3, tourneed, or peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- Pearl Onions - 1 pound, unpeeled, or thawed frozen pearl onions
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup (1 stick)
- Mushrooms - 1 pound, whole
- Red Potatoes - 4 small, tourneed, or peeled and cut into quarters
- Fresh Peas - 8 ounces, 8 ounces fresh peas, or one 10-1/2-ounce package thawed frozen baby peas
- Haricots Verts - 4 ounces, or baby green beans, or green beans cut in half lengthwise
- Fresh Parsley - 2 tablespoons, minced
To make the stew: Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over high hat. Add the lamb, being careful not to crowd the pan; work in batches if necessary. Brown the lamb on all sides; remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Drain the fat from the pan. Lower the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook for 3 minutes, or until golden, stirring frequently. Add the carrots, garlic, celery, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf, and stir for 1 minute. Remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside with the lamb.
Increase the heat to high and pour the white wine into the pan a little at a time while stirring to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid has reduced to about 3 cups. Return the meat and vegetables to the pan and add the fresh tomato chunks and stock or water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, or until the lamb is tender.
To prepare the vegetables: Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the carrots and turnips and boil for 4 minutes. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and immediately place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Add the pearl onions to the pan and boil for 2 minutes (1 minute if using thawed frozen pearl onions). Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice water. Trim the root end and pop the pearl onions out of their skins. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, cover the potatoes with lightly salted cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes until tender, 12 to 15 minutes, then drain them and set aside. In another small saucepan, bring lightly salted water to a boil and boil the peas for 2 minutes, or just until they turn bright green. Remove the peas from the pan with a slotted spoon and add them to the ice water. Boil the green beans for 3 minutes and cool at once in the same ice water. Set aside.
Remove the lamb from the pan to a bowl and keep it warm. Skim as much fat as possible from the top of the liquid with a spoon, then cook the liquid over high heat for 15 minutes. Strain the reduced liquid through a fine-meshed sieve, pressing the vegetables with the back of a spoon against the sides to extract as much liquid as possible. Melt the butter in a 12-inch saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, turnips, and onions. Saute the vegetables for 3 minutes, or until tender, then add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the blanched peas and green beans and heat through.
Add the lamb to the pan liquid, then mix in the sauteed vegetables.
To serve: Spoon the lamb stew onto plates, then top with the blanched peas, green beans, diced tomatoes, and parsley.