A really, really, really delicious lamb stew!!! Navarin printanier is French for lamb stew. "Navarin" refers to stew which contains lamb, and the word "Printanier" alludes to springtime and to the first tiny vegetables appearing in the garden.
This stew is made from lamb shoulder, a tougher cut of meat which becomes truly flavorful when properly cooked. The stewing method tenderizes tough pieces of meat and allows the flavours of the ingredients to blend deliciously. The dish needs to cook for about 2 hours, partly on the stove top and partly in the oven. In the end, the lamb comes out very tender, the vegetables are sweet, and the sauce is perfect!
Meat from the shoulder of lamb is fatty, so a good amount of fat trimming needs to take place before it's ready for cooking. This type of meat also contains some bones. I discarded a few and I saved a few. Adding bones to the pot makes the dish that much more flavorful. All too often making stew means cooking with beef. This is a delicious change.
3 pounds lamb shoulder, excess fat removed, most bones discarded
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 pound small onions, such as pearl onions, skins removed
3 carrots sliced into 3/4 inch pieces
1 turnip cut into 3/4 inch wedges
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper
salt and pepper
1/2 cup of beef or chicken broth
a few thyme leaves, a few rosemary leaves and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- After removing the fat from the lamb cut the meat into 1½ inch pieces. Discard most of the bones, but keep a few. Bones left in the meat give added flavour to the sauce. Once the stew cooks, the lamb will be very tender, and the bones will just pop away from the meat so that they can be discarded before serving.
- Use some paper towels to dry the meat well. It will not brown if it is left damp.
- In a Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown the lamb on all sides. Brown it in batches without overcrowding the pan, and add more olive oil to the pot as needed. Remove the browned lamb to a plate and reserve.
- If there is a lot of fat in the pot, discard it. If the pot has just a little olive oil and a lot of brown bits in it, by all means, leave it alone.
- Brown the meat again: season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the flour on top. Stir the meat so that it's coated with flour. Return it to the pot and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. This process will help to thicken the sauce.
- Add the beef broth, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, red onion,garlic, and the bouquet garni. Mix and bring to a boil. Make sure you gently incorporate into the broth all that brown goodness stuck to the bottom of the pot. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
- While the lamb is simmering prepare the vegetables. First, remove the onion skins. When dealing with small onions there is a very easy way to do this: cut off the root and stem ends. Let the onions cook in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain them, and when they are cool enough to handle, pick them up one by one. You'll be able to squeeze their skins right off.
- In a skillet, heat a little of the olive oil and sauté the onions until they turn brown. Add the 1/2 cup of broth, a few thyme leaves, a few rosemary leaves a bay leaf and the tablespoon of parsley. Simmer slowly until the liquid evaporates, about half an hour. Add the peas and 1/4 of the sugar. Stir for about a minute or two and then remove them to a plate and cover to keep warm. Discard the bay leaf.
- In the same skillet heat a little more olive oil and add the carrots, turnip, potatoes, a few thyme leaves and a few rosemary leaves. Stir for about 2 minutes and then add the sugar. Cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes until the vegetables are browned.
- When the lamb has cooked for 45 minutes, add the all the vegetables except the peas and onions. Mix, cover the pot and place it in a preheated 375ºF oven.
- Cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the lamb is really tender. Make sure there is enough liquid in the pot. You may or may not need to add a little bit more.
- Discard the bouquet garni and the bones. Or, you may choose to discard the bouquet garni and keep the bones.
- Stir in the peas and onions, and serve. Like all good stews, this lamb stew will need to be ladled into soup plates. And, like all good stews (perhaps it's a cliche to mention it), it will taste better the next day.