Snow Days Do Not Suck

OK.  I will admit it.  Snow days do not suck.  My ONLY hesitation with them is that we have to make them up in June...when the kids are off the chain...when it's time to be on the water...in the cove...with a cerveza.  But when in Rome...Today the snow has been gorgeous and the day has been spent in front of the fire with a cup of coffee, catching up on all of the magazines we subscribe to and haven't had time to read (I really need to be in Mexico in March with Rick Bayless and Food and Wine!), and perusing cook books.  Oh and cooking.  Of course cooking:) 

This summer our CSA included grass fed lamb and I have hoarded it all fall.  Our freezer is stocked so full with it and it was time to cook some of it.  Lamb stew sounded like a perfect snow day dinner so I consulted several cookbooks and Frankensteined a stew recipe.  So many lamb stews I have had miss the mark everywhere in the dish.  Potatoes are too cooked, meat is too tough, stew sauce/broth is too bland, zero depth of flavor past broth, flour, and salt, the list could go on and on.  I used stew meat and lamb shanks and the recipe is a cross between braised lamb shanks and lamb stew.  Two words, people: bone marrow.  It is the secret ingredient to nirvana in a bowl.  I am encouraged by the smells coming from my kitchen and the flavor of things happening in that pot so far.



Lamb Stew

3 Tablespoons olive oil
2-3 lamb shanks
2# lamb stew meat
1 medium onion, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 medium potatoes, chopped (I am using sweet potatoes)
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef or chicken broth
1 cup water
Salt and Pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley 

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbs olive oil over medium high heat.  Make sure meat has been patted dry and generously salt and pepper and place shanks in the pan first and cook, stirring once until nicely browned all over, about 7 minutes.  Transfer shanks to a plate and set aside and add the stew meat to the pan and cook until browned.  Transfer to shank plate.  Add additional 1 Tbs olive oil to same pan and add onions, shallots, garlic, carrots, and celery until softened.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and the flour, stirring to cover all of the vegetables.  

Add the wine, broth, and water to the pan and stir to scrape all of the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a simmer.  It should start to thicken.  Add thyme and rosemary to pan.  Add meat back into pan.  Cover and place in the oven.  Cook 1 hour.  Remove lid and add potatoes to the pot.  Cover and return to the oven and cook 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from oven and remove shanks from the pan.  When cool enough to handle, remove meat from the bone and return meat to the pot.  Season to taste and add parsley.  Serve with crusty artisan bread and a great red wine.


It is still snowing to beat the band here and I have a sinking feeling we may be out tomorrow too.  At least you all will know where to find me come the end of June.  In the meantime we will are going to run the dog in the snow for awhile and work up an appetite for dinner.  Stay warm, friends.

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