Quick Recipes and Easy

Italian Lamb Stew Recipe

Simple, no-effort dishes, with clear uncomplicated flavours are called for after all the rich Christmas feasting. I went looking for a recipe to cook some excellent Karoo lamb shoulder chops. Grilling would have toughened them, so some slow cooking was required. Revisiting my Marcella Hazan cook books, I found a couple of straightforward recipes that sounded excellent and place them both together. The result was tasty, an intense flavour that took me straight back to a country restaurant in Italy, where they know how to get the best from their ingredients without over-embellishing them. The meat is browned in oil with garlic and rosemary, half a cup of white wine is poured over, then it is left to cook slowly for an hour and a half. You end up with tender meat and the exquisitely flavoured, reduced juices to drizzle over it. Make some potatoes, cubed and roasted in olive oil to accompany it, some salad and a perfect Sunday lunch fit for a king is yours for very small effort.

Italian Lamb Stew Recipe

You can use most cuts of lamb for this recipe, from large hunks on the bone, to chops, to boneless cubes for stewing – the only difference is the amount of cooking time needed to make the lamb tender. For large pieces about two hours, smaller pieces 1 – 1 ½ hours should be enough, but check for tenderness – the meat should start coming away from the bone easily.

750g-900g (1 ¾ – 2lb) lamb
4-5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 sprig of rosemary or ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
125ml/ ½ cup dry white wine
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan, to which you have a lid, over a medium-high heat. Place in the lamb, garlic and rosemary and brown the lamb on all sides. (Don’t let the garlic darken too much). Once the lamb is nicely browned, add salt and freshly ground pepper then pour over all the wine. Let the wine bubble and turn the meat over in it a couple of times, then turn down the heat and place on the lid. Cook at a gentle simmer for 1-2 hours depending on the size of the meat pieces. Turn the meat once or twice during this time. If all the liquid has evaporated before the end of the cooking time, add two tablespoons of water. Once the lamb feels tender when you pierce it with a fork, take it out on to a warm serving dish. Draw off most of the stout with a spoon. If there is a lot of liquid in the pan, turn up the heat and let it bubble to reduce. If there is hardly any, add a couple of tablespoons of water and scrape up the cooking residue to make a tasty gravy. Pour this over the lamb and serve immediately.

There are lots of variations on this basic recipe. If you ever tire of this simple version, try adding one of the following:

450g/1lb fresh French/green beans topped and tailed and added after the wine has bubbled, before you turn the heat down.
225g/8oz tinned tomatoes with their juice, added after the wine has bubbled, before you turn the heat down.
1 red pepper peeled, de-seeded and cut into thin strips added to the lamb near the end of its cooking time

After the holiday season of too much rich food and complex flavours this was the breath of fresh air I was looking for – simple and straightforward but satisfying. My mouth is still watering at the memory!

Kit Heathcock – worked and travelled in Italy for many years, is passionate about food and likes being a fulltime mother. Co-creator of aflowergallery.com A Flower Gallery home of original flower pictures, food-and-family.com Food and Family and fantastic-books-reviewed.blogspot.com Fantastic Books Reviewed

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