Lamb stew with flageolet beans

We’ve gone from the wettest January in 250 years according to the press to ‘Wild Wednesday’ with ‘Red Warning’ winds hitting Britain. In the Basque country when the sea waves are this big it’s called temporal. Whenever it’s stormy here my mum tells me about how much more ‘impresionante’ temporal is in San Sebastian and how people go out of their way to witness it. So far today she’s told me about temporal at least 3 times…

We’re staying in then! I’ve a mountain of laundry to conquer (including a bag of dry clean only knitwear I just realised our machine can wash perfectly on a cold wool setting!! HIGHLIGHT OF MY DAY! NOT BEING SARCASTIC). I made a nice minestrone for our lunch and, because I remembered to marinate the meat last night, this lamb stew is currently bubbling away on the stove for our dinner, while we listen to Lena Horne’s Stormy Weather on the stereo!

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It’s one of my mum’s staples and she also does a similar stew with beef which I’ll share soon. It’s very rich and gorgeous – Lexie likes it but I give her a small portion and often water her sauce down a little. It’s also another brown recipe from me! I’m turning into the brown pot lady! I’ve got a bright orange butternut squash tagine coming up as well as my cousin’s hake and clams in salsa verde. This blog will soon be a rainbow I promise! (Couldn’t resist this pic again!)

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Lamb stew with flageolet beans

Prep time: 10 mins plus 4 hours + marinating time
Cooking time: 2-4 hours
Budget: £10 (£4 lamb neck, 60p onion, 30p carrot, £1 rosemary, £2 tin flageolet beans, £2 bacon)
Ease: easy
Serves 4

  • 2 pieces of lamb neck fillet or similar cut of lamb for stewing – cut into pieces
  • 1 white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 stick celery, sliced
  • 2 tbsp roughly of olive oil
  • 2 big glasses of red wine
  • 1 stick of rosemary
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 2 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
  • 1 stock cube – chicken, lamb or veg
  • Plain flour for dusting lamb
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tin of flageolet beans

Marinate the meat for 4 hours or ideally overnight in some olive oil (2 tbpsn), a big glass of red wine, salt and pepper, garlic cloves and a stick of rosemary.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan (I used a Le Creuset). Take the lamb pieces out of the marinade, reserving the liquid to add to the stew later, dust lightly in flour and place into the hot oil. I used to be crap at browning meat – the trick is, as Hugh Fearnley says: “Remember you are looking to burn…” This info from his MEAT cookbook is the business:

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Once the meat is browned, set aside on a plate and add a big splash of wine to the pan. Turn the heat up and use a spatula to scrape up or ‘deglaze’ all the meaty bits. After a couple of minutes pour the winey bits into the marinade.

Put more oil in the pan, heat then add the onion, carrot, celery and bacon. Season and cook gently for ages to make the sofrito (very softened onions, not browned). When the sofrito is ready add the meat and juices that have been released while it’s been resting. Then add the marinade liquid keeping the garlic cloves but removing and chucking the stick of rosemary. Add a bay leaf, the stock cube and top up with lots of water – the lamb should be well covered. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 2-4 hours. From time to time check it’s not drying out and if it is just add more water. 10 mins before serving open, drain and rinse the flageolet beans and add to the stew. Season to taste and serve with lots of fresh crusty white bread. This stew is also nice with boiled new potatoes instead of flageolet beans or even rice – but not chips or roast tatties!! Nooo – it’s too rich for them!

(Here’s a pic of our sole outing of the day at dusk so Lexie could have a scoot around the square and look at the moon!)

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EDIT: We’ve just eaten the stew – it was bloody amazing!

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