Monthly Archives: April 2006


Lamb Stew with Turnips and Rutabagas

Serves 4 to 6

3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 medium onions, peeled and quartered, or 12 baby onions
1 leek, white and light green parts, coarsely chopped
5 rutabagas, peeled and quartered
2 turnips, peeled and cut into eighths
2 1/2 cups lamb stock or water
12 baby red potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Cut the lamb meat into 1 1/4-inch cubes and trim off the large chunks of fat. Place the fat in a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat and cook until the fat renders out, about 5 minutes. Discard any solid bits of fat that remain.

Season the meat with salt and pepper and add to the hot fat. Brown meat on all sides, working in batches if necessary, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer browned meat to a casserole.

Add the onions, leeks, rutabaga, and turnips to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and brown lightly in the fat. Add the vegetables to the casserole with the meat.

Pour the stock into the pot, bring to a boil, and stir to dissolve the caramelized bits. Pour into the casserole. Lay the potatoes over the vegetables in the casserole, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil over the stove. Cover the casserole, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the lamb is tender and vegetables are cooked, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

When stew is cooked, pour off cooking liquid into a clean saucepan. Skim off any excess fat and bring liquid to a simmer. In another saucepan, make a roux by melting the butter, then whisking in the flour until it forms a smooth paste. Cook roux over low heat for 2 minutes. Add roux to cooking liquid, whisking until thickened slightly. Add parsley and chives, taste for seasoning, and pour back over casserole. Bring casserole back up to a simmer and serve immediately.


Chile Braised Lamb Shanks

We like to cook and serve our lamb shanks whole so that a big, knobby bone is sticking up out of the bowl, Flintstone-style, just begging to be gnawed on. (You may need to ask your butcher for a shank or front leg bone that’s not already cut into smaller osso bucco-style slices.) In general, lamb shanks are a great cut to use for rich-tasting broths because they contain such gelatinous goodness.

Serves 6

6 lamb shanks, trimmed of excess fat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups flour for coating
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
12 cups chicken stock, water, or combination of both
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced*
6 cups cooked white or brown rice
1 cup grated añejo cheese (Cacique is a good brand)

Generously sprinkle the shanks with the salt and pepper, cayenne, paprika, and cumin. Dip in the flour to lightly coat. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Brown the shanks on all sides, transfer to a platter, and reserve.

Reduce heat to medium and cook the onions in the same pan, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and oregano and cook for 1 minute to release aromas. Return the shanks to the pan and pour in the stock or water. (If the shanks are not completely covered by liquid, add enough water to cover.)

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, about 45 minutes, occasionally skimming foam and fat from the top. Stir in the tomatoes and chiles and cook for an additional 40 minutes, or until shank is tender. To test for doneness, pierce with a fork. If the shank easily slides off fork, the meat is tender. Remove from heat.

To serve, arrange each shank over a bed of rice in each serving bowl. Top with plenty of broth and vegetables. Garnish with the cheese and serve immediately.

* Fresh chiles and bell peppers can be roasted over a gas flame or on a tray under the broiler. Keep turning so the skin is evenly charred, without burning and drying out the flesh. Transfer charred peppers to a plastic bag, tie the top closed and let steam until cool to the touch, about 10 to 15 minutes. The best way to peel is just to pull off the charred skin by hand and then dip the peppers briefly in water to remove any blackened bits. Do not peel the peppers under running water since that will wash away flavorful juices. Once peeled, cut away stems, seeds, and veins.


Farmers’ Carrots

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (Nantes are a good variety)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
A pinch of sugar
1 large romaine lettuce leaf
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Juice of 1/4 lemon

Combine carrots, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small pot and cover with lettuce leaf. Cover pot and cook carrots over low heat, about 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Discard lettuce leaf. Stir in butter and a squirt of lemon juice and serve.


Fresh Pea Soup with Mint

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
5 cups chicken stock
2 cups fresh shelled or frozen baby peas
1/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, salt, and pepper, and cook 5 minutes until onion has softened. Add the potatoes and sauté 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, lower the heat, and simmer gently for 25 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Add the peas and cook 3 minutes until tender but still bright green. Puree the mixture, either with an immersion blender or in a food processor, until smooth. Place in a clean pot, stir in the sour cream, and rewarm gently. Stir in the fresh mint and serve.

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