Monday, January 30, 2012

Fragrantly Sweet Lamb Stew

I know I speak blasphemy when I say we grew a little tired of all the fresh fish we've been having. I happen to love lamb, perhaps it's my Greek heritage. I rarely have lamb though, since it's so expensive. But the other day I noticed lamb stew meat was a reasonable price so I purchased two packs. One pack had bones and the other didn't. Be sure to use lamb with bones because the bones help thicken the sauce and they also add flavor. I wish I had topped the stew with a sprig of parsley to enhance the photo. This stew was so succulent and fragrantly sweet.

First I browned some garlic in butter in a large stock pot on top of the stove, then I added the meat to brown a bit. Next I added two cans of diced tomatoes and one can of tomato paste. Then I filled the diced tomato can with water and added two of those full, maybe three. Just make sure the meat is covered completely with liquid. I turned up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Meanwhile I looked in my spice cabinet and pulled out a bunch of spices I thought might go with lamb. Now I am sitting here trying to remember which ones I used because this stew was unbelievably delicious. I know I used mustard seed, rosemary, crushed mint, anise seed, fennel seed, and crushed bay leaves. I used a liberal amount of the all of these especially the rosemary. Some folks don't like lamb because of the what they call the strong flavor of the meat, but the combinations I've used in this stew minimizes that strong flavor and you're sure to like it.

Many times when I make a dish with a tomato base, like spaghetti sauce, I'll add some baking soda right at the end of the cooking to neutralize the acid of the tomatoes. This is a tip I learned from my teenage years of learning to cook from Antoinette Pope's cookbook. I looked in my cabinet and didn't have any baking soda. I thought about adding a little sugar but that didn't seem quite right for this recipe. Here's what I did. I added half a cup of grapefruit juice. Now that may sound strange, but sometimes two acid ingredients have a way of combining and making something sweet and enhancing the other flavors and spices. Why? It's some kind of cooking chemistry. And it worked like a charm with this dish.

When the pot came to a boil I turned the heat down to a simmer and kept it cooking for about two hours only stirring occasionally. I would have added russet potatoes, but I only had sweet potatoes. I chopped up three good sized ones and added them the last 45 minutes of cooking time. Now I'm wondering if the sweet potatoes enhanced the flavor of the sauce as well. Something to test by using white potatoes next time. When the stew was done the meat was very tender and some of the meat was falling off the bone. Gary and I both enjoyed the stew immensely. We had more than enough sauce left over a couple of days later, so I chopped up a couple of zucchini and crookneck squash and cooked them for half an hour in the sauce and we ate that too. If you are a vegetarian you can use this sauce with just vegetables; thicken with some cornstarch or regular potatoes. If you don't have grapefruit juice, substitute some orange juice. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


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  2. Lamb is my favorite meat but you would think it was like eating new borns where I live. Nary a chop within 100 miles.
    I suppose in Little Rock but I don't have time for that.
    Made me drool just a tad.

  3. that looks so yummy! i really like lamb, but like you, rarely have it. last year Meredith and I went to a sheep farm and she suggested I buy some lamb shanks... she shared a recipe with me it was fabulous... just the right spices and tomato based like yours.
    yum, yum, yum!

  4. Your stew looks delicious. I bet the sweet potatoes did add to the flavor! We love particular the Australian/New Zealand's all grass fed so is more flavorful. I generally wait for it to go on sale....around Easter there are usually some good deals on whole legs....which I cut in half with my trusty kitchen hacksaw. Lamb shanks seem to be cheaper than most cuts...I think because people don't know what to do with them.

    How much baking soda do you use in proportion to a can of tomatoes?

  5. Linda - the stew does look lovely & is making me hungry even though it's Monday morning...

  6. Sounds wonderful.Looks great even without the parsley.

  7. tired of the fish? I wish we were closer. Would be fun to get together---- plus having your pottery wisdom near would be such a gift. take care!

  8. I think you are a cooking genius! Sounds a lovely recipe. Funny thing was I did look at lamb in the supermarket here today, but really expensive at the moment.... actually most food is now so it is getting quite an interesting puzzle to do the shopping. Living as I do in New Zealand, it is nice to read that smartcat enjoys NZ/Australian lamb... It is said that New Zealanders are good travelers, and it sounds like we travel dead or alive!!

  9. Hi MC Photography, thanks for stopping by.

    Hi Patti, thanks, I know that feeling all too well when lived in Arkansas choices were few and far between, only cat fish too.

    Hi Michele, thanks, was the lamb less expensive at the farm? I'd go to one if they had one nearby here. Wonder what Meredith's recipe was?

    Hi Suzi, thanks, the lamb we get here is from New Zealand and I am always wondering why some farmer's here don't raise some since it is so expensive here. I use about a teaspoon in a whole pot of tomato sauce, you'll see it foam and bubble up (not over the top or anything), stir well, the reaction is quite exciting to watch in the pot.

    Hi Julia, thanks, yeah I tend to post in the morning and most of my recipes are for lunch or supper, but I'm taking the photos the night before. Ha.

    Hi Dennis, thanks so much. The parsley thought might be me hoping one day I'll get my recipes or pots in a magazine or something Ha.

    Hi Patricia, thanks, it is really good and easy to make.

    Hi Amy, thanks, I wish we were closer too, can't wait for you to get your studio together and watch your progress into cone 6.

    Hi Peter, thanks, and here I thought you would have the advantage of less expensive lamb where you are since most of our lamb comes from your country. I can't believe how expensive food is getting here as well. It seems to increase almost daily here and soon we may be relegated to eating rice with a bone for flavoring.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment