Navarin of lamb
I made this simple, classic French one-pot meal down in the Languedoc in April last year - proof that a stew hits the spot at what can still be a chilly time of year.
Ideally you need to plan it 24 hours ahead. It's better, like many stews, made the previous day but if you haven't factored that in at least allow time for the stew to cool and refrigerate so that you can spoon off the layer of fat that will rise to the surface. (Don't let that put you off - it's better made with slightly fatty meat.)
What veg you use for a navarin depends what’s in season but I’d suggest carrots are essential and turnips nice. Later in the spring you could add a few lightly cooked fresh peas and skinned broad beans at the end along with the parsley.
750g lamb shoulder cut into large chunks or a combination of shoulder and neck
3 tbsp seasoned plain flour
5 tbsp olive oil
100ml dry white wine + an extra slosh
2 medium-sized onions, peeled and sliced (sweet onions like oignons de lezignan would be ideal)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
2-3 medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced
2-3 medium-sized turnips, scrubbed and cut into even-sized cubes
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 sprig of fresh thyme
A good handful of flat-leaf parsley
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
400g new potatoes, washed
Pat the pieces of meat dry and roll in the seasoned flour. Heat a frying pan and add 2 tbsp of the oil, then when the oil has heated, the butter. Fry the meat on all sides a few pieces at a time. Remove from the pan and set aside. Deglaze the pan with the wine and pour over the meat. Wipe the pan and return to the heat. Add the remaining oil, tip in the onions, stir and leave over a low heat until soft. Add the garlic and coriander seeds then the carrots and turnips, cover and continue to cook for another 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the remaining flour, tomatoes, bayleaf, parsley stalks and stock and bring to the boil. Add the meat, bring back to a simmer then cover and leave on a low heat or in a low oven 110°C fan oven for 1 1/2 hours, checking occasionally. Remove from the oven cool and refrigate. Spoon off and discard the fat. Reheat gently Cook the potatoes in boiling water until almost done then add to the stew. Leave over a low heat for 10 minutes for the flavours to combine, adding an extra dash of white wine if you think it needs it. Chop the remainging parsley and fold through.
What to drink: this is a homely dish so I don't think you need anything particularly grand with it. Although used white wine to make the dish, and a rich smooth white would work with it, I'd marginally prefer a red. A basic burgundy or Beaujolais would pair well - something dry and medium-bodied rather than a big full-bodied belter. It's also a good foil for a mature Bordeaux or Rioja that needs drinking up - or even an old Faugères which is what we drank with it back in April last year.
The rather messy pic is mine. At least you know it's real.
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