Remember that lamb stew I mentioned the other day? Well, I made it this week. It was hearty and delicious, and a pleasant break from chocolate.
The lamb came from an animal we bought last spring from Greg at Borderbay. It's a Scottish Blackface, and it is utterly delicious. We pulled out two packages of shoulder chops for the stew, and while it was a bit of a trick to trim the meat off the bones, it was worth it. Wine and crushed tomatoes made up the backbone of the dish, and the addition of balsamic and cinnamon gave it a rich, wintery finish.
I highly recommend it.
I highly recommend it.
LAMB STEW WITH WHEAT BERRIES
This dish comes from Maria Speck's Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. Her original calls for raisins, but I swapped in cranberries for a local, seasonal change. They were perfect—tart, bright, with plenty of tang to cut the richness of the meat.
2 cups water
1 cup wheat berries, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 and 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed from the bone and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 and 1/2 cups onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed, and finely chopped
1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon brown sugar
freshly ground pepper to taste
Bring the water and wheat berries to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover the pot, turn the heat down as low as it goes, and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the grains are chewy. Set aside; keep the cooking liquid.
Season the lamb meat with salt and pepper. Heat up the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. When it starts to shimmer add the lamb and brown it on all sides. This should take roughly 5 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a plate.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Season with a pinch of salt (about 1/4 teaspoon) and cook, stirring constantly, until the onion starts to get soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds or so, then add the crushed tomatoes, red wine, balsamic, paprika, carrots, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Add the reserved meat.
Bring everything to a boil, then cover the pot, turn the heat down, and leave the stew to simmer for 30 minutes. Add the cranberries and the wheat berries with their cooking liquid. Bring everything back to a boil, then cover the pot again and turn the heat down. Simmer for another 40 minutes, or until the lamb is fork-tender. Add the sugar, taste, and adjust the seasonings as you like (I added a bit more balsamic and salt and pepper). Serve hot.