Banish those horrid memories of Dinty Moore Beef Stew from decades past, which in MHO was reminiscent of canned dog food—and we didn’t even have a dog when I was young! OK, now that we’ve cleansed our brains of the aversion, let’s reimagine stew as it should be: a classic, slowly braised dish that makes French cooking timelessly appealing.
Adapted from (we increased some of the veggies) Dorie Greenspan’s recipe in “Around My French Table,” we spent a few hours one snowy Sunday afternoon concocting Navarin Printanier, a lovely lamb stew. The lamb is browned stovetop and then simmered gently with its vegetable medley companions: onions, turnips, small potatoes and carrots.
When the sauce is a burnished mahogany color and both the lamb and the vegetables are fork-tender, you finish the stew with a pop of color, throwing in green peas. You could make it without the peas, up to two days ahead, keeping it covered in the refrigerator. Just reheat the navarin in a 350-degree-oven for 30 minutes, then add the peas and let them cook a few minutes more.
It’s a complete meal in itself and needs nothing else, but perhaps a dusting of chopped parsley. Now you can replace the childhood memories of “Eew Stew” to a much more palatable “Ooooo Stew” and look forward to making it again…
Since the supermarket wasn’t carrying boneless lamb shoulder, we had to get a large, bone-in leg of lamb and debone it. And because it was closer to 5-pounds, we sliced off a few steaks to freeze before cubing the meat.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 pounds lamb shoulder trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups beef broth
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 garlic cloves chopped
- 12 small white onions, not peeled
- 3 carrots sliced into 3/4 inch pieces
- 2 medium turnips, trimmed, peeled, cut into 1/2″-thick wedges, wedges cut crosswise in half
- 1 pound small red-skin new potatoes, halved
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
- salt and pepper
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 3 parsley sprigs, more chopped leaves for garnish
- 1 bay leave, cut in half
- salt and pepper
- Pour 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy dutch oven over moderate to high heat.
- When very hot add enough lamb pieces to brown them on all sides in a single layer. Turn to brown. You don’t want to crowd the meat so do this in two or three batches at about 5 minutes each.
- When the lamb is all brown transfer to a plate and start the next batch.
- When done, empty pan and return lamb to dutch over.
- Sprinkle with flour and a generous pinch of slat and pepper and continue cooking for 3 minutes.
- Add broth and tomato paste, garlic, thyme, parsley and bay leaf.
- Stir everything a few times and bring to a boil.
- When boiling turn down flame to low and cover the pot to let it simmer for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a boil, drop in the onions, and cook for just a minute. Drain the onions, slice off the root ends, and slip off their skins.
- Set a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter.
- When its hot and the carrots and turnips and cook for 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle sugar and continue cooking for 8 minutes or until root veggies are cooked and browned but not soft. (This step was closer to 20 minutes for us.)
- Add boiled onions and cook for another 2 minutes to brown onions slightly.
- Put rack in center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
- Add sautéed veggies, potatoes, and simmer on stove for 15 minutes before putting dutch oven into the oven.
- Braise for 40-45 minutes until lamb is fork-tender.
- Remove from oven and discard bay leaf and parsley stems, if you can find them!
- Add frozen peas to stew and let cook on stove top over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
- Check seasonings, ladle into bowls, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Russ swore this was probably the best stew he ever had, and I had to concur!