Sunday, September 11, 2011

Basque Lamb Stew

More than 20 years ago I spent a month in Biarritz, France, on the Atlantic coast, home of the best surfing in Europe. My four weeks there were heaven - language classes from 9-12, two hour lunches spent swimming on the beach and additional classes until 5pm and then home to my host family who made wonderful, simple Basque food. It was one of the happiest times of my life, and for better or worse, anything Basque invokes those happy memories. So when I found this Basque Lamb Stew on Simply Recipes I knew I would be making it sooner rather than later.

Roasted red peppers are the main ingredient to this stew aside from the lamb, and combined with just a smidgen of other savory seasonings - onion, garlic, rosemary and bay leaf - they create magic! I made less than the full amount in the original recipe (two pounds of lamb stew meat instead of three and a half) and am very sad that I short changed myself!

Since bell peppers are in season (and relatively inexpensive as such) I went the DIY route and roasted and peeled them myself rather than buying a jar as the original recipe proscribed. While DIY food prep sometimes costs more, I simply love the ritual of doing it the old-fashioned way; it simply soothes my soul! Choose what works best for you. This stew went grate with mashed potatoes and rice alike, so pick whichever accompaniment you prefer.

Basque Lamb Stew (from Simply Recipes)
serves 3-4

2 lbs lamb stew meat (shoulder) cut in 2 inch pieces
2 whole roasted peppers, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, divided
4 inch piece of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup white wine
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 large tomato, diced with juice
2 fresh bay leaves (or 1 dry)
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup water or stock
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced

Marinate lamb with white wine, rosemary sprig and three cloves garlic, smashed, for 2-3 hours. Drain and discard rosemary and mince garlic from marinade with other three garlic cloves; pat lamb dry. In large, heavy bottomed cooking pot brown meat in olive oil until all pieces are browned, making sure to allow space between each piece of meat so it browns instead of steams; do in batches if necessary. Return all meat to pot if done in batched and add onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes until onion softens. Add roasted peppers, tomato, paprika, parsley, bay leaf and wine and allow to cook down and thicken slightly for 15 minutes. Add stock or water and reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally to keep bottom from stocking. The stew is done when meat is fulling apart. Great eaten immediately as well as second day.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Radicchio and Haricot Vert Salad with Candied Walnuts at Eats Well With Others
Homemade Sassafras Root Beer from Simply Recipes
Basil Simple Syrup from Talk of Tomatoes


The Food Hunter said...

this looks could you go wrong with red peppers and lamb.

Joanne said...

That sauce looks so rich and delicious!