When it seems like Mother Nature flipped a switch and the rain comes full tilt, the warmth of what's cooking in the kitchen is a comforting way to deal with what's brewing outside. Here's a classic lamb stew recipe from the south of France with a decidedly local flavor. This deliciously deep and earthy one-pot meal works just as easily for a small dinner party as it does a family meal... with leftovers everyone will actually get excited about eating. Take note: You can make adjustments – like substituting white wine for red and adding even more green herbs – to suit the warmer months.
Navarin of Lamb, Vegetables, and Red Wine
4 1-inch lamb leg steaks, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 medium leeks, root end trimmed, whites sliced into 1-inch rounds, green ends reserved
5 carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
6 medium turnips, trimmed, peeled and quartered
6 button mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
6 oyster mushrooms, trimmed and thickly sliced
12 small fingerling potatoes
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 small bunch each of rosemary, sage, and thyme
1 bunch of parsley, stemmed and chopped
1 bottle red wine, plus more for drinking with friends
1 quart meat stock or water
3/4 cup good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Good crusty bread
In a 3 quart Le Creuset brazier heat ¼ cup of olive oil over medium high heat. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Sear the lamb in small batches, browning the meat evenly and reserving each batch in a small bowl. Add more olive oil as needed for each batch.
Create an aromatic bundle by rolling the thyme, sage and rosemary in a few of the leek greens. Secure with butcher’s twine. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan. Season the leeks, carrots and turnips with some salt and increase the heat. Add the vegetables and aromatics and cook on high heat for 5-7 minutes scraping any lamb bits or juices that have accumulated. Add the mushrooms, potatoes and tomato paste and stir to combine.
Cover the pot with the lid and reduce the heat to medium. Allow to simmer for 10-12 minutes and add the wine and lamb and stir to combine. Season with a pinch to two of salt and add enough liquid (water or stock) to come up 2/3 of stew. Cover, bring to a boil and reduce to low or place in a low oven. Braise the navarin for 30 minutes.
Place the pot in the middle of the dining room table. Ladle into individual bowls and serve with a generous amount of parsley, crusty bread, wine and conversation.
Photos by Emily Hill