Navarin D’Agneau – Spring Lamb Stew

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Yield: 6 servings

Total Time: 3 1/2 hours

This is a fabulous springtime lamb stew that highlights all the wonderful vegetables that are so fresh in the spring. It is hearty and so delicious. Enjoy with a medium bodied bottle of red wine.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp canola oil

3 1/2 lbs boneless lamb – a selection of shoulder, ribs and breast, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 Tbsp sugar

3 Tbsp flour

4 cups chicken broth

3 Tbsp tomato paste

3 cloves garlic

1 bay leaf

1 bunch fresh thyme

18 pearl onions, peeled

6 baby carrots, peeled

8 baby turnips

18 tiny potatoes

1 1/2 cup green peas, fresh or frozen

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

Creme fraiche to taste (about 1/3 cups)

Fleur de Sel or sea salt

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

2. Heat oil in large skillet. While it heats, dry lamb with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper

3. Brown lamb in the hot oil. You will need to do this in 2 batches. Once brown, transfer lamb to a Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Once the Dutch oven has heated, spring the lamb with the sugar and toss until caramelized – about 3-5 minutes.

4. Sprinkle lamb with flour and toss again. Place Dutch oven in the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Toss the meat and cook for an additional 5 minutes. The lamb should be slightly crusted now. Remove from oven.

5. Reduce heat to 325 degrees F.

6. Add chicken broth to the lamb, along with tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf and sever sprigs of thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring broth to a lazy simmer. Cover the pot and return it to the oven. Bake for 2 hours or until lamb is meltingly tender. Meanwhile, with a paring knife, carve a shallow “x” into the root ends of the pearl onions. Cut carrots lengthwise into matchsticks. Quarter baby turnips.

7. Parboil each of the vegetables separately in boiling salted water until just short of tender. (This will take about 10 minutes for pearl onions, 10 for potatoes, 5 for the carrots and 5 for the turnips, and 2 for the peas, but cooking times will vary according to the size and age of the veggies.)

8. Remove navarin from the oven when ready. Transfer lamb to a bowl. Strain the remaining liquid, discarding the solids. Return meat to Dutch oven. Nestle vegetables and cherry tomatoes around the meat. Pour the strained liquid back in. Cover and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Off beat, stir in the creme fraiche.

9. Serve in wide bowls, sprinkled with fleur de sel and a scattering of the remaining thyme and any other fresh herbs you fancy. A crusty baguette is the perfect partner. Follow with a salad of young greens and a selection of cheeses. Bon Apetit!!

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