My favorite stew—–It might be yours, too!

The weather has gone from autumn brilliant:

to frozen solid with all of the leaves on. We’ve had three lynx on our back deck (I got only one horrible pic), as well as these gorgeous bucks

trying to get something to eat through the ice. One wants to know why I’m taking pictures off the ice rink of an upper deck. We spent a couple of lovely days at home working on projects and enjoying cooking time. Ice, ice!

Today’s blog is actually not totally from that cooking weekend, though we began it with a Friday night version of this lovely, original stew, layered with some rice topped with chiffonade of basil and a tish black pepper: I even added some carrots to round the stew out.   Another night, we had it with pasta.

I do apologize for the picture, but you get the idea. This is a full-bodied, hearty lamb stew that you could make

1. in the crock-pot,
2. on the stovetop or
3 in the oven if you so choose.

You can eat it just like it is in deep bowls, adding some baguette for dipping. Or, you can freeze a few containers and have them with rice or pasta some other week. Totally up to you.

–Can sub beef or pork for lamb (but I wish you wouldn’t)
6-8 servings

In microwave oven or stove, cook 2 c dry white beans, one large onion, halved (keep skin on), 4 cloves of garlic with papers, 3 sprigs of rosemary and a teaspoon of freshly-ground pepper (no salt) in 2qts water, covered, until nearly tender. (Dry beans cook wonderfully in the micro.) Drain beans, remove vegetables and herbs. Set aside.  (If you choose to use canned beans (drained), add them in for the last hour of cooking in the crock-pot.)

In large skillet, brown 2# lean lamb, cubed and 4 Italian sausage links, cut into chunks.

Here, I cooked the meat in two pans at once (left and right) to hasten the process.

Add 2 c chopped onion, 1 c chopped celery, 2-4 cloves crushed garlic, 1 t each rosemary, thyme. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Cook 5-7 minutes until onion is becoming limp and translucent.

In 6qt. crock-pot, combine drained beans, meat and veggies. Add 2qt. beef stock , 1 32 oz can chopped tomatoes and 1 c red wine.*

Cook on low 6-8 hours. Make sure beans are tender before serving. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Alternately:  Cook on the stove top.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and let cook until everything is tender–about an hour and a half.  Don’t overcook.

Serve w/ crusty bread and the rest of the bottle of red wine. An inexpensive French Cote du Rhone or even a lighter Italian red would be great. Any red would do in a pinch. We have enjoyed Pinot Noir with this meal. (Of course.)

A note on the meat: I use boneless leg of lamb for this stew and there is plenty left to do some lamb kabobs the next day if you have bought a whole leg.  Alternate onion and lamb on soaked skewers. Brush with olive oil and dust with garlic salt and oregano. Grill until medium rare. Serve with a side of cucumbers and dill in yogurt.

I have also used Lamb top round, which cooks a bit too quickly for this stew.  Stick with the leg or shoulder if you can.

Turkey Italian Sausage can be subbed for the pork sausage. If you use turkey, do not cook it all day in the crockpot. Just brown it and add it right before serving.

*This is a great method for altitude cooking.  If you live at sea level, or near it, you can just cook the beans half-way before adding them.

This is one of my very favorite stews and certainly a favorite recipe. I heard the words lamb and beans one day and this is what transpired.

There must be a special blessing for eating lamb; it’s so tasty, homey and still elegant. Think of one and post it? We are always so incredibly grateful for such stomach-warming dishes. Particularly when it snows ice for hours on end. Brr.

… … … … … … … … …

Meantime, the weather has broken a tad and I’m in the middle of baking loaf after loaf of pumpkin bread. Pumpkin is a little scarce this year, but I got enough for my bread and for the Thanksgiving pies. Yes, it’s coming!

I’m traveling the next few days. I will put up something new if I can, but might have to wait until early next week. Include me in your prayers for travel mercies?

Sing a new song…
additional pictures added Feb, 2013