For those of you who were hoping for news of my demise, I hate to disappoint you. Instead, I spent the last 6 weeks or so working with a high school on our robot. We need to ship it last Tuesday (the 19th) and were working on it until 2:30 AM the night before. Given the amount of time and energy Angela and I put into this project (it’s all for the kids, it has nothing to do with the fact that robots are cool, really), we frequently ended up going out to eat instead of cooking. Even on the few nights that weren’t dedicated to robots (and it became fewer and fewer as time went on), we generally went out simply to save our sanity. And, for any who are curious, we compete March 21st and 22nd.
And, to make matters worse, I promptly got sick on Wednesday afternoon. Which brings us to today where, hopped up on decongestants, I was inspired to write a post because I watched Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie about food bloggers. So that’s why you get to read my incoherent, medicated thoughts.
If you saw the entries on Cooking Lessons and thought I had been replaced (that could probably have a positive effect on the readership here), those entries are being made by my wonderful wife (I need to win some brownie points). I wish I knew how to get the author to show up by each post but I can’t figure it out without changing the theme.
Now, back to the food, I made this lamb stew almost two weeks ago apparently (I had to look at the information on the photos to figure it out). In southern California, we are currently experiencing a semi-spring. It’s still cold enough to be winter (well, as cold as it gets during winter here) but the spring vegetables are showing up at the farmer’s markets.
So, of course, I make a stew that claims to be a spring stew but leave out the green beans (they aren’t in season yet) and use frozen peas (fresh aren’t in season). I’m doing a bang up job of eating seasonally. In any case, frozen peas are almost as good as fresh ones and I’m not entirely sure green beans would’ve worked well in the stew as it turned out.
Stew also is a bit of a misnomer. When I think of stew, I think of something that is primarily liquid with good-sized chunks of meat and vegetables in it. This “stew” consists of good-sized chunks of meat and vegetables with a little bit of liquid covering them. It was good, just not very stewy.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of cutting the lamb into slightly too small pieces. When it cooked, the lamb managed to dry out. So cut your pieces larger than I did.
The vegetables were the real stars of this dish. The root vegetables soaked up a lot of the flavors of the lamb (and stock) and were exquisite.
I should also note that the recipe for frozen peas is very good on its own. Good enough that Angela specifically asked for me to make it again (and we all know how much she loves vegetables).
Navarin Printanier (Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables)
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
1.5 lbs. stew meat, cut into 2-inch pieces
salt and pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp flour
2 to 3 cups beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
a bouquet garni made up of 1 clove of garlic, 3 sprigs of thyme, and 1 bay leaf
6 peeled boiling potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
3 peeled carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
2 peeled parsnips, cut into bite sized pieces
8 peeled white onions
1 cup prepared frozen peas
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Season the lamb with salt and pepper and then dry thoroughly on paper towels. Place a skillet over high heat and add the oil. Brown the lamb a few pieces at a time in the hot oil, then transfer to a dutch oven.
- Sprinkle the lamb with the sugar and then place in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes or until the sugar has begun to caramelize.
- Toss the meat with the flour and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, toss the meat, and then place in the oven for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until it has a light crust. Turn down the oven temperature to 350°F
- Pour out the fat from the skillet and add the stock. Bring the stock to a boil and deglaze the pan. Pour the stock into the dutch oven. Bring to a simmer in the dutch oven, then add the tomato paste and boquet garni. Stir to combine, return to a simmer, and then cover the dutch oven.
- Cook in the oven for 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the chunks of lamb. Remove the dutch oven from the oven. Add the potatoes, carrot, parsnips, and onions to the dutch oven and mix well. Bring to a simmer on the stove top, cover, and return to the oven for one hour more.
- Remove the dutch oven from the oven. Add the peas. Check the sauce for seasoning. Bring the stew to a simmer for 1 minute.
- Serve with good bread.
Serves 3 to 4.
Prepared Frozen Peas
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp diced shallots
1/4 tsp kosher salt
pinch of pepper
1/4 cup beef stock
- Bring the butter, shallots, salt, pepper, and beef stock to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the peas, cover, and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the peas are tender.
- Remove the lid and boil off any remaining liquid.
Makes 1 cup of peas.