Spring Lamb Stew

June 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

For the past six weeks I’ve been gloriously shopping at the local farm stands and I can’t wait for the open-air Farmer’s Market to start!

Farm fresh baby veggies for Spring Lamb Stew

I have been experimenting with various locally grown baby vegetables for weeks now and my favorite recipe so far is for Spring Lamb Stew. What comes to mind when many people think about lamb stew is a rich hearty broth that has been braising in the oven for hours but that just isn’t necessary. Lamb stew doesn’t need to be reserved for cold winter months. For this recipe I utilize the fresh spring crop vegetables and tender chunks of lamb leg meat to create a light, fresh flavored stew.

Spring Lamb Stew

NOTE ABOUT CUTS OF LAMB: I tried various cuts of lamb for this recipe – shoulder, neck, and boneless leg. Although less expensive, I found the shoulder and neck cuts gamier in flavor. I generally like lamb leg meat cooked medium to medium rare but for this stew the cut allowed me to cook the stew quickly (about 45 minutes to brown meat and I used par cooked veggies) and still produce tender chunks of meat.

2-3 lbs. Lamb leg, cut into 1 to 1½ inch cubes
3 large cloves (about 2 Tbls.) Garlic, chopped
1 Tbls. Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper
5-6 cups “Spring Vegetables” par cooked if they need more than 5 minutes to cook

Example of vegetables that could be used: Green Peas, Fava Beans, Young White or Red Turnips, Carrots, Baby Beets, Parsnips, Sugar Snap Peas, Garlic Scapes, etc. (see example in chart below)

For this recipe I used the following vegetables and par cook times:

1 ½ cups Green Peas Do not need to par cook
1 ½ cups Young White Turnip 3 minutes
1 ½ cups Carrots 3 minutes for whole baby carrots. Do not need to par cook if sliced small
1 cup Baby Beets, sliced in half or quarter and 3 cups of the Beet Greens, chopped 5 minutes for baby beets. Do not need to par cook beet greens

18-24 Pearl Onions, red or white, peeled
3 cups Baby Potatoes, cut in half or quarter, and par-cooked for 10 minutes
2 Tbls. Olive Oil
½ cup light red or white wine*
2 Tbls. Sage, fresh chopped
1 tsp. Rosemary, fresh chopped
3 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth

* A red wine will develop into a richer flavor in this stew but stay with a light red. I used a light Rioja for this recipe. White wine can also be used and will develop into a very light fresh taste that enhances the sweetness of the vegetables. Again, stick to a light white. I’ve use a light Pinot Grigio in the past.

PAR COOK VEGGIES: Bring a large pot water to a boil. Assess which vegetables bleed in color (like beets) or have a strong flavor (like pearl onions).

Farm fresh baby veggies for Spring Lamb Stew

Cook the vegetable that bleeds in color second to last and the pearl onions last. Par cook vegetables separately in hot water, lifting vegetables out with a slotted spoon when cooked and cooking the next vegetable.

New potatoes for Spring Lamb Stew

Sliced red, golden, and purple new potatoes

For example, using the vegetables noted in the chart above: Cook turnips for 3 minutes then remove with slotted spoon. Let water return to boil and cook carrots for 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and put beets in water when it returns to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Last, place pearl onions in water for 30 seconds (no more or they will get too soft). Just the pearl onions need to be rinsed in cold water or placed in an ice water bath. Peel outer skin of the onion by cutting the ends and pinching the center of the onion out.

Farm fresh baby veggies for Spring Lamb Stew

The vegetables can be prepared to this point in advance and set aside until ready to cook stew.

NOTE: For good directions on how to peel pearl onions check out http://startcooking.com/blog/202/How-to-Peel-Pearl-Onions

PREPARE STEW: Heat 2 Tbls. oil in a heavy saucepan. Brown the lamb on high heat. If necessary, brown the meat in 2-3 batches so each piece browns nicely. When all the meat is browned, return the meat to the pan and add pearl onions. Lower heat to medium-high and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add wine and continue stirring for 1 minute. Add all the vegetables (except the beet greens), rosemary and sage. Stir until everything is mixed evenly. Add chicken broth and bring to a full boil. Boil uncovered for 8 minutes. Add beet greens and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Spring Lamb Stew

Serve as a one-pot-meal or with a nice crusty bread.

For those of you who are like me and like to have an old fashion printed copy of recipes, the below link is to a PDF (minus photos to keep it on one page).

Spring Lamb Stew.pdf

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Grilled Lamb Leg (boneless)

April 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

I know many people enjoy it but I never could understand why people have mint jelly with lamb. To me, it seemed like serving ketchup with fillet mignon – you really shouldn’t need a condiment. The earthy flavor of lamb should be enhanced with fresh herbs and seasoning.

This recipe adds a subtle fruity flavor to the traditional garlic and rosemary herbs used to season lamb. Flattening a boneless lamb leg also speeds up the cooking time. Season the meat overnight and it can be grilled under 30 minutes.

For information about the difference between American and Australian/New Zealand lamb see my blog for Lamb Shanks with White Beans and Gremolata.

Grilled lamb leg, boneless

NOTES: This recipe is prepared on a Weber gas grill with three horizontal burners and a temperature gauge on the cover. You may need to adjust the cooking method if you are using a different burner configuration or if you are using a coal or wood fueled grill. I did not use an internal meat thermometer, simply because I don’t have one, so I could not note the meat temperature in this recipe. The lamb in this recipe is prepared “medium” – evenly pink throughout the meat.

4 lbs. Lamb Leg, boneless
2 Tbls. Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbls. Orange Juice
2 Tbls. Olive Oil
1 Tbls. Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbls. Tomato Paste
1 Tbls. Garlic, chopped
1 Tbls. Flat Leaf Parsley, fresh chopped
2 tsp. Rosemary, fresh chopped
¼ tsp. Black Pepper, fresh ground

PREPARE LAMB: In most cases, when purchasing boneless lamb leg, it will be tied with string or held together by netting. If this is the case, remove all string or netting and open lamb so it is a thick flat fillet of meat. If necessary, slice into meat so it will lay fairly flat. The meat should be about 3-inches thick (if it is thinner, adjust grilling times). Try to keep the thickness even so it will cook consistently. If there is a layer of fat on the outer side of the meat, leave a thin layer, about 1/8-inch. Too much fat may cause the grill to flare and char the meat but too little will make the meat a little dry. Place the meat in a rectangular pan that will allow the meat to lay flat or place meat in a Ziplock bag. Set aside in refrigerator while mixing marinade.

MARINADE: In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the lamb.

Grilled lamb marinade

Mix well and pour onto meat, being sure to cover all surfaces. Let meat marinate for at least one hour to overnight.

Grilled lamb leg, boneless

NOTE: The piece of lamb photographed in this blog is 2 lbs (half a lamb leg) but this recipe is written based on preparing a full leg, approximately 4 lbs.

GRILL: Turn the grill onto high heat, covered, until the grill temperature reaches 400°. Brush a thin layer of vegetable oil onto grill to prevent meat from sticking. Place the lamb onto grill, fat side (outer side of the meat) down first. Turn the center burner to the lowest heat setting and turn the side burners to medium. Maintain a grill temperature of 375°. Cook with the grill covered for 7 minutes. Check half way through cooking to make sure fat is not causing meat to char too much. If it is, lower heat or cook with lid open for a short time. Turn meat over and continue to cook with the cover closed for 14 minutes. Continue to maintain a grill temperature of 375°. Remove the meat to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for 10 minutes.

Grilled lamb leg, boneless

Cut the meat into ¼-inch slices. Serve while still hot.

Grilled lamb leg, boneless

SERVING RECOMMENDATIONS: Try my recipe for Smashed Potatoes or if you want something very simple, try boiling small potatoes for 15-20 minutes, drain, coat them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve the potatoes as is or prepare them in advance and put them on the grill next to the lamb to warm them up.

For those of you who are like me and like to have an old fashion printed copy of recipes, the below link is to a PDF (minus photos to keep it on one page).

Grilled Lamb Leg (boneless).pdf

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