Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Whisk Wednesdays—Navarin d'Agneau Printanier (Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables)

Lamb Stew with Spring VegetablesThis is a stew to celebrate Spring, but we're deep into Fall now in Eastern Canada. So I've mixed the celebrations and used a maple syrup sap bucket to show off the stew and placed autumn leaves around its base.

We're still focusing on braising and stewing this week, and true to French cooking form, everything is cooked and seasoned separately and then assembled together at the end. Doing this adds a depth of flavor and ensures every element tastes its best at the end, although it requires more dishes than just one crockpot!

The recipe calls for lamb. Lamb meat is the meat from a young sheep (less than 12 months of age). A mutton is a sheep older than 1 year and has a more gamey, strong flavor.
"Hey, salad's got nothin' on this mutton." — Jerry Seinfeld, The Wink
Instead of mutton, get a lamb shoulder and cut it into cubes. Preferably, get a Spring lamb: "a milk-fed lamb, usually three to five months old, born in late winter or early spring and sold usually before July 1st". (Wikipedia) I cheated and found lamb shoulder already cut into cubes and trimmed.

Sear, Roux and Stew
Last week we made a stew too, but it was a white stew (which meant it was blanched first). This week, it's a brown stew so the meat is seared first. When searing, you should see the bottom of pan so that meat browns and doesn't poach.

After searing, I let the lamb have a bit of a rest on a plate. Then, to the hot pan I added the butter, onions and garlic and then sprinkled it with flour and cooked this mixture for a couple of minutes, scraping up the lamb fond left from searing. (Like a roux, the flour helps to thicken the juices.) Then I added the seared lamb back in with water to cover, plus some tomato paste and aromatics like thyme, bay, salt and pepper. Like a stock, you're adding flavor to the base. After I brought this to a boil, I reduced the heat and let it simmer for 25 minutes. Now, the "stew" work was done.

Next were the vegetables. This dish has a ton of veggies. Each needing their own pot! Get the dishwasher empty and ready for dirty pots!

First the carrots, turnips and potatoes had to be turned. Of course, if you're doing this just for fun, you don't have to turn them, but if you want to pretend you're at culinary school, you must turn them. So turn them, I tried. Then, I popped them each into their very own pot, covered with cold water, a dab of butter and a sprinkle of salt pepper and they were ready to glaze: boil, reduce heat, and simmer until water has evaporated.

The green beans and peas are blanched, separately, each in their very own pot, of course.

The potatoes got to share the pot with the stew for 30 minutes at the end of the cooking time.

Finally, all the vegetables are allowed to swim together in the stew for 5-10 minutes. Season and this stew was ready to serve.

Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables mise en placeYou can find the recipe for Navarin d'Agneau Printanier (Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables) in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home or here. To see how the rest of the Whisk Wednesdays group fared with this week's recipe, click here (or check out the sidebar) and then click on each blogger!

Tasting Notes
I love how the vegetables are prepared separately from the stew (notwithstanding all the dishes!). In most stews, the vegetables are a limp, inedible mass at the end of stewing, so this was a treat (especially for someone like me who doesn't like lamb!). At least there was something for me to enjoy about this stew. The lamb was nicely tender and flavored, but lamb is just a tad too gamey for me. I still remember all the hamburgers and meat pies I ate in Australia that had a slight taste of lamb. They put lamb meat in everything {well, almost}. But the techniques of searing, stewing and preparing the vegetables separately are my take-aways from this recipe.

[Skipping a week] Next Posting Week (October 15)
Some things have come up at home, so I'm taking a week off. I will be moving the schedule out a week. If you're following along, feel free to do a rewind for next week or take a vacation too!
• Merlans Colbert (Deep-fried Whiting with Tartar Sauce) pages 290-291

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Running total: $817.60 + $34.96 = $852.56

Butter used so far: 8 pounds, 4 tablespoons

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::Whisk Wednesdays::
We're cooking our way through a cooking school curriculum using the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. The "classes" are based on the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum found online and used as a guideline. Not all the items in the curriculum are in the cookbook, but most are. Where the items are not in the book, we try to find a suitable substitution. Find out more here.


NKP said...

Great stew, I just wanted to pick out a green bean and eat it.
I love that you put it in a maple syrup bucket. I was actually cold walking the pups tonight, fall is here.
(not taking the crocs off until it snows, though)

vibi said...

Fall is in the house! ...and it seems it smelled pretty darn good in yours today!
What beautiful colors you bring to us this morning : simple, fresh and hearty all rolled up in one bowl!

Maria said...

Love the bucket! Very creative way to show off a stellar dish!

Anonymous said...

Nice work. I love a goo Navarin!

Anonymous said...

What an awesome stew. I love lamb, and this is a great way to use a shoulder.

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Looks great, I would eat the vegetables only since I don't eat lamb. Great season for stews.

Anonymous said...

We are in stew season too and I'm loving it! :)

Anonymous said...

Your photos are always so creative! I love reading your posts. *Ü* I'm still so enchanted with this project that I'm drafting my friends as guinea pigs (leftovers). Will post soon... Best whisks! Glennis

AmyRuth said...

of course we all love your site, just wanted to say I like your new page...

Anonymous said...

Looks fantastic, and I will make it further into the winter season. I could get NO ONE here to agree to eating a stew again this week, so I just didn't even attempt it. I know they will feel differently in the winter. We still have our pool open here so they were not willing to think of comfort food yet. Yours looks, post, everything.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

natashya - I always fight Fall, and go barefoot as long as possible!

vibi - Yup, Fall is here. Crisp. Cool. But hearty at the table!

maria - The bucket was a great find at an antique store. I love the patina on it.

dana mccauley - It was delicious, in its own way. Next time, though, I'll have to use beef.

matt - It was very tender!

helene - Fall is a good time to stew some meat, I agree.

maryann - Thanks for dropping by!

cantbelieveweate - Glad to hear you're still enchanted! :)

amyruth - Thanks!!

kayte - I'm tired of stews now and ready to move onto fish & chips!

Thanks for stopping by, everyone!!