I usually have my idea for what I will make for this food column by the beginning of the week. This week, Wednesday rolled around and I was still unsure. I knew I wanted to use the lamb meat I bought for the occasion. However, I bought lamb stew meat and wasn’t really sure how to work with this. I bought it because it was inexpensive and something new for me to learn. I looked at many different lamb stew recipes and just couldn’t make a decision on how I should prepare this meal. I remembered a dish my friend, Gautam, made for us one night that was so delicious. He used fresh ginger, garlic and lime juice to prepare an incredible chicken dinner. I thought this might be a great way to cook the lamb. I wrote to Gautam and asked him to go over the recipe with me again to refresh my memory. He obliged.
Well, Wednesday afternoon did not turn out as planned. Imagine that! To make a long story short, one of my kids decided to test the limits of my sanity. I won’t discuss the details and embarrass the child here; although, I probably should to teach that little stinker a lesson. No, retaliation is never the answer. By the time Claud came home from work, I was drained. We sat down together and talked about the situation and what the consequences would be for the child. I felt a tiny bit better and went upstairs to take a bath and to regroup. The thoughts of sending the child to boarding school or military school were no longer streaming through my mind. I calmed myself down.
As I headed back downstairs, refreshed and ready to cook lamb, I smelled something wonderful wafting in front the kitchen. Claud was cooking. I love it when Claud cooks. He is an artist in the kitchen. He tosses together ingredients like its second nature. He has a natural ability to combine food that not only works but sings. Everything he makes tastes magnificent. I think he felt sorry for me and decided I needed a break from cooking that evening. I didn’t ask any questions. I grabbed my camera and documented his meal. Of course, he had found my lamb meat.
Claud always begins a meal with an onion. He plans his recipe while he chops. So, onions were sauteing in the skillet along with celery. He never looks at recipes for ideas. All of his ideas are in his mind. He cooked the lamb meat in mustard seed, mustard, Worschestershire sauce, turmeric, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. I don’t think I would have come up with that combination had I cooked it myself; but, I knew it would taste perfect.
As the stew was almost ready to serve, he said he needed to thicken it up. Usually, Claud mixes some flour in water and slowly whisks this into the stew to make it thicken. I told him that I learned from Julia Child‘s cookbook last week that you can mix the flour into melted butter and whisk that into the stew to thicken it. It works much better. He did it and was impressed. This technique really works. I couldn’t believe I actually taught him something about cooking.
Finally, he plated the stew. He made the rice look beautiful by placing it in a bowl and then inverting it onto the plate. She spooned the stew around the rice, added a side of grilled polenta and garnished it with a sprig of basil. It looked beautiful. It tasted even better. The meat was tender and flavorful. I was relieved; because, I thought stew meat might be tough and bland. The combination of fresh herbs and mustard seed was the perfect combination of tastes. Claud and I sat at the table together and ate this delicious stew. “What are we calling this?” I asked him. “Feel Better Spicy Lamb Stew, ” he replied and I smiled knowing I did feel so much better. Then, we ate in silence. Only an occasional, “mmmm” was heard.
Feel Better Spicy Lamb Stew
Time: one hour
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 pound lamb stew meat
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon basil leaves, chopped
1 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Saute onions and celery for about ten minutes. Take the celery and onions out of the skillet and place in a bowl. Turn the heat on high. Brown the meat in the skillet for about ten minutes (until it is browned on all sides). Add the mustard seed, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, turmeric, garlic salt, salt, pepper, thyme and basil. Add the onions and celery back into the skillet. Lower the heat to medium high. Let this brown a little more (for about five minutes). Pour in the wine stock to deglaze the pan. Scrape all of the seasoning off of the bottom of the skillet. Add the chicken stock. Bring the stew to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for a half an hour, allowing the liquid to reduce. Melt the butter and mix it in a glass with the flower to form a thick mixture. Slowly wisk this into the stew. It will immediately thicken. Serve with rice and grilled polenta. Garnish with basil.
- imabonehead: pepsakoy: Jamaican Lamb Curry (pepsakoy.blogspot.com)
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- Lamb and Leek Stew (notecook.com)
- Lamb with fennel and orange (telegraph.co.uk)
- Autumn signals the start of stew season (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Boneless leg of lamb with Dijon mustard and caper crust (citymama.com)