I really do enjoy going to the grocery store with no idea what I’ll be fixing for dinner that night. More often than not it’s based on what I know we won’t be having. I do hope my readers here have that same sense of adventure and confidence. Remember: if it goes badly for you a pizza is just a phone call away.
Last night no last-minute pizza call was necessary. At the grocer I spotted my favorite orange sticker (Special Today!) on packages of Stew Lamb. The special as you know always means it’s discounted because it’s about to reach store expiration. Cuts for stew are sometimes tough if prepared willy-nilly, you need a plan to tenderize the meat.
One of the simplest and most flavorful methods is to brine the meat before cooking. The stew turned out great! Keep in mind you can do this with beef in the exact same way. Two-three hours before you will be cooking, prepare the brine: 1/4 cup kosher or sea salt, 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons sugar or maple syrup + any spices that you like. Place the cubed lamb or beef into a large plastic ziplock bag, pour in the brine and close the bag, squeezing out the excess air. Place the bag in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove meat from brine, dry on paper towels and dredge the meat in a bowl with flour and pepper. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a medium size ovenproof stock pot and brown all sides of the meat in a single layer. When all sides are browned remove the meat to a clean bowl and melt one more tbsp. of butter into the pan, leaving all the tasty browning in the pan. NOTE: You will need to let the pan cool down a bit before you melt the next butter or it will scorch; not good.
Work a small amount of flour into the melted butter, scraping the edges into the flour mixture. Dash in a half cup beef broth and keep stirring. Work out the lumps and continue adding broth until your gravy begins coming together.Add 1/4 cup red wine or sherry and continue stirring until your gravy is the consistency you want. Put the browned meat and two large Rosemary sprigs into the pot, stir and place in the oven.
For the veges I roughly chopped some carrots and leeks. You can also add mushrooms to this mix if you like. I started the cooking process by sautéing them in a large skillet with a little butter. When the carrots are bright orange and beginning to soften remove from heat. Introduce the veges to the stock pot, stir and replace the pot into the oven. Cook for 2 + hours. Serve over potatoes or rice, along with red wine and a crusty bread. Yum!! ~TH~