Navarin Printanier

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.

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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…

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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.
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Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. Pour 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy dutch oven over moderate to high heat.
  2. 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.
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  3. When the lamb is all brown transfer to a plate and start the next batch.
  4. When done, empty pan and return lamb to dutch over.
  5. Sprinkle with flour and a generous pinch of slat and pepper and continue cooking for 3 minutes.
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  6. Add broth and tomato paste, garlic, thyme, parsley and bay leaf.
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  7. Stir everything a few times and bring to a boil.
  8. When boiling turn down flame to low and cover the pot to let it simmer for 45 minutes.
  9. 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.
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  10. Set a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter.
  11. When its hot and the carrots and turnips and cook for 2 minutes.
  12. 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.)
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  13. Add boiled onions and cook for another 2 minutes to brown onions slightly.
  14. Put rack in center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
  15. Add sautéed veggies, potatoes, and simmer on stove for 15 minutes before putting dutch oven into the oven.
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  16. Braise for 40-45 minutes until lamb is fork-tender.
  17. Remove from oven and discard bay leaf and parsley stems, if you can find them!
  18. Add frozen peas to stew and let cook on stove top over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
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  19. Check seasonings, ladle into bowls, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

IMG_1551Russ swore this was probably the best stew he ever had, and I had to concur!

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