Four weeks of beef stew in a row, a change of pace was called for when this remarkably simple recipe for a braised lamb stew showed up on the NYT Cooking site. I’ve often made my own version of a lamb stew, more complex, with prunes and figs, so I knew this would come out tasting very similar. The deal was sealed when a 2.71 lb ‘semi-boneless’ Australian leg of lamb was on sale for under $6 at Stop & Shop. When cut into 2″ cubes, this yielded just a tad under the 2lbs. needed.
The recipe required a few tweaks – it was a good start, but needed improvement – so I’ll re-post it here and then offer my changes:
BRAISED LAMB WITH RED WINE AND PRUNES
adapted from New York Times
As mentioned, I used leg of lamb, not shoulder, which I never see at the market. After cutting the meat and most of the fat off the bone, I did use the bone in the dish for added flavor, and let my pups enjoy the bits of meat I cut off of it. There is no cooking oil instruction, which I found odd, so I used about 2 tbsp olive oil to brown the meat in a Dutch oven. I also more than doubled the ginger and upped the cinnamon to 1/2 tsp. Had an inexpensive Gnarly Head Cabernet for the cooking wine, and used 1/2 cup beef bouillion, not water – why add less flavor when you can add more?
At the 2-hour point, I added 3 medium cut up carrots for color and more vegetable matter, and let that go another 45 minutes on very low simmer. And just before serving, as usual, I reduced the sauce after removing the solids. This really concentrates the flavors and it puzzles me why this step is left out of so many recipes.
As shown in the photo, the meal was completed with a quick basmati rice pilaf and broccoli florets cooked the easiest way imaginable – in a ziploc bag with a bit of salt & butter, and nuked for 2 minutes.
The good news is the leftovers will be even better! Such is the joy of stews.