We had the wildest night the other night. I'm not talking the dancing on tables sort of time but a storm with a force I'd not experienced in Vancouver since our arrival nearly two years ago. It started up just as I was going to bed but I wasn't aware of the power cut until the early hours when I got up very briefly!! The power wasn't restored until later in the day, by which time I had put the torch and candles to one side. Breakfast was cooked with a petzl lamp attached to my head and the children and I ate by candle light. It was quite a lot of fun actually, just a shame the husband wasn't around at the time 'cos it was even a little bit romantic. But it's funny, you know, the evening before I had put the veggies through the shredder and scheduled my morning Facebook post, both fairly unusual happenings for me, such are my organisational skills. Spooky!
Thank goodness for pre-made comforting stews that just need to be warmed through for a nourishing meal. I've mentioned before how I love slow cooked food, yet I don't possess a Slow Cooker. Hmmm, perhaps I should invest but whilst I dither, I'll happily continue putting the oven on a low heat and potter about the house whilst it does good stuff. I like to keep the temperature at a barely simmering point, allowing time for the flavours to infuse and the meat to fall apart the moment it is touched by the fork.
I should really cook lamb more often. It's a delicious meat and when cooked slow, oh it is melt-in-the-mouth heavenly! The beauty here is that it is satisfyingly quick to put together, though you really wouldn't know that by its taste because these flavours work beautifully. To me the point of eating stew is that it leaves a feeling of having being nourished, warmed and comforted .. as far as I'm concerned this recipe ticks all of those boxes!
I've recently fallen in love with rutabaga. I'd previously always used purple turnips but rutabaga is more earthy and gutsy, and takes on flavours far more willingly. Rutabagas are perfect for this rustic stew.
lamb stew with black olives and rosemary
This nutritious and hearty stew is full of flavour and really benefits from long, slow cooking. Its thick and glossy sauce is achieved by reduction, but relies on a good quality gelatinous bone broth in order to do so. Take the time to brown your meat properly and you will be rewarded with a delicious meal.
Print the recipe here
1 kg lamb shoulder, cut into 1+1/2" cubes
1 tbsp solid fat (I like duck fat), if needed
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
900g (about 2 medium) rutabaga, peeled and chopped into 1+1/2" pieces
125g pitted kalamata olives in olive oil*
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
3 small bay leaves (preferably fresh)
3 cups (750ml) gelatinous beef bone broth
sea salt, if needed (I use this one)
A few tips for successful browning: The point of browning meat beforehand is twofold. Firstly, nicely browned meat adds much more flavour to a dish than unbrowned and secondly, the searing traps moisture within the flesh, making it beautifully tender. The trick is to do this in small batches, leaving enough space around the pieces to prevent them from steaming and releasing moisture back into the pan. Start with a reasonably high heat and once the pan is good and hot, turn down to medium. Cooking on too high a heat releases unhealthy free radicals, plus it will burn the bottom of the pan which will be reflected in the end flavour. When the meat is first in the pan do not try to move it for at least a couple of minutes or it will stick to the base. Allow it to sear completely at which time it will easily slip off the base when you want to turn it over, or take it out. Regulating the temperature results in a good sediment of flavour at the bottom of the pan which is then deglazed later, incorporating that flavour into the stew, so monitor the heat as you brown so you don't burn the base.
Because lamb is a fatty meat it requires no fat for browning.
Preheat oven to 300˚F/150˚C
Heat a large heavy based lidded casserole (Dutch oven). Add the lamb in batches and brown the pieces all over, putting aside in a large bowl as you go.
Once the meat is browned and removed, add the tbsp of fat and then the onions to the casserole. Turn the heat right down and sweat for 5 minutes or so until translucent and taking on some of the colour from the bottom of the casserole. If, at any point, your pan is a little over brown and parched, a tbsp water will help release the sediment, so quickly scrape it off and incorporate into the onions before the moisture is evaporated.
When the onions are nice and soft, add the browned meat, together with the rutabaga and combine well. Put in the remaining ingredients and mix well, making sure the meat is covered by the liquid. It is important not to add salt at this stage, the reduction of the liquor at the end will intensify all the flavours and you may find there is no need (I didn't add it at all). Turn up the heat, bring up to a simmer, put the lid on and place into the oven.
Cook for 2+1/2 hours or until the lamb is tender and falls apart when pressed with a spoon, checking mid way through the cooking process to make sure the stew isn't drying up.
When the stew is cooked, remove the meat, rutabagas and olives with a slotted school (or set a colander over a large bowl and strain the mixture that way) and put the liquor back on the heat. Bring it up to the boil and reduce by half until thickened and glossy. Add the ingredients that you had put aside and mix gently, keeping the meat pieces intact.
Serve with garlic cauliflower mash.
* Don't forget to check how your olives have been cured, many will not be with AIP approved ingredients.