I walked outside the other day, and started to notice the season changing–it was cooler than it had been all summer, and the late summer days were starting to grow shorter. I found some cheap lamb meat at the market, but knew that it would only be edible if I stewed it slowly to tenderize it. I couldn’t use my usual sear-and-go style of cooking this time, but I knew it would be worth the extra effort.
I went back and forth with the direction of this stew, but I settled on a sort of hybrid of spices and techniques; I made the base of the stew with a standard French mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion), and red wine (I used a Merlot), and built layers of flavor with earthy spices. I really like the way red wine pairs with coriander, so I adjusted the spices to make sure that combination came through in the final dish. If you don’t have wine on hand, you can add a small amount of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar to your stew as it cooks. Although it will provide some desperately needed acidity to you stew, the vinegar won’t impart many of the subtle berry notes you’ll get with wine.
Time is the secret ingredient here–I prepped this overnight, and cooked it slowly for several hours to tenderize the meat–and maximize flavor–the next day. You can even get away with “rustic” chops of your vegetables here–once you get everything going, the stew will practically cook itself.
2 lb Lamb Stew Meat
1 Medium Onion, chopped roughly
3 Carrots, chopped roughly
2 Celery Stalks, chopped roughly
5 Garlic Cloves, crushed
3 Bay Leaves
4 Springs of Thyme
2 Tbsp Coriander
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Paprika
1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon
2 Cups Spinach
2 Cups Cannellini Beans
1 Quart Chicken Stock
2 Cups Red Wine (optional)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Remove your lamb meat from the packaging, and pat dry with paper towels. Season generously with your spice blend, and seal in ziplock bag, ensuring that the meat is evenly coated. Place the bag in the refrigerator overnight to marinate. Remove your meat from the fridge, and place on the counter for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
- Prepare the mirepoix: chop the onion, carrot, and celery into rough, but even pieces. Crush the garlic, and set aside with the rest of the aromatics.
- Place a large pot on medium-high heat until hot–you won’t need to add oil, because the lamb will release plenty as it cooks. Sear the lamb in small batches on all sides, then transfer the meat to a large, heat-safe container.
- Sautée your onion, carrot, and celery in the pot with a pinch of salt, and stir to release the fond that formed from the lamb. Stir in bayleaves, thyme, garlic, and spices when the onions begin to caramelize, then pour in the wine, and chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Add back the lamb meat, lower the heat to medium, and cover.
- Stir the stew occasionally as it cooks, and let simmer until the lamb is fork tender. Taste the stew for seasoning, and adjust if needed.
- Once the meat is tender, add spinach, and cannellini beans, and stir to heat evenly.
- Taste for seasoning, and serve.