Last week, the sky opened up and released buckets of snow that it had apparently been holding on to since sometime in November. In short, it was freakin’ cold outside. But I know how to conquer the cold weather when it hits: with stew! I make stew (and most other things) using a very imprecise cooking method known as the “Making Shit Up” method. This makes it a bit more challenging to write down or pass on recipes, but I’ve had good luck with it over all. The night before I made this stew I came up with an idea for it. And some people might shout, “That’s like my grandma’s recipe! You didn’t invent it, Liar McLiar-pants!” But I haven’t read your grandma’s recipe, so I just put a bunch of things in a pot that I thought would taste good together. (Also, your grandma is a lovely person and you should really call her more often.)
So. Here’s what I did: The night before the stew, I started off with my lamb pieces. I put the lamb into a large casserole dish and with sliced garlic, 2 sprigs of rosemary, and a little bit of thyme. Then I poured the remains of a bottle of red wine over. it. (Don’t fret for the wasted wine, my dears. I had about 2 cups left in a bottle that I’d forgotten about and left on the counter for a week.) Then I put a lid on the dish and put it in the fridge overnight. The same night, I put my lentils and barley into a deep bowl and covered them with water. I left them on the counter overnight.
Many hours pass. When I peeked into the casserole dish on Stew Day, I noted that the lamb had turned quite purple and this entertained me for some reason. I emptied the entire casserole dish (lamb, wine, and all) into a large stock pot and let it sizzle a bit. The meat didn’t exactly “brown”, but it did turn a darker shade of purple, which was good enough for me. Next, I added the chopped onion and carrot and simmered that for a little while. Next, I added the chopped potato, the 2 remaining rosemary sprigs, the bay leaves, a splash of sherry, and some stock (just enough stock to cover everything in the pot) and then put the lid down and ignored it for a while.
When I came back, everything was bubbling away nicely and smelling delicious. The lamb meat on the bones was quite tender, so I removed the bones and tossed the meat back into the stew. At this point, I added the soaking barley/lentil mixture from the night before, and a bit more sherry and stock, then ignored it some more. Then I put 2 tbsp of flour and about half a cup of stock into a small container with a tight-fitting lid (a clean yogurt container will do) and shook it like the dickens. I poured the resulting flour slurry into the stew pot to thicken things up, and then ignored it (yet again) for a while. I took out the bay leaves and rosemary twigs about five minutes before serving and added the frozen peas (so that they didn’t overcook and get mushy). My stew was quite thick, but I like it thick. Feel free to adjust your own by adding more stock and/or sherry until it looks right to you. And taste-test it as you go along so you can adjust the seasoning.
Lamb and Lentil Stew Ingredients
1½ lbs lamb pieces (stewing pieces with bones are ok too)
2 cups of cheap red wine (or go ahead and use fancy red wine if you’d prefer, Mister Rockefeller.)
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
4 sprigs of rosemary
4 bay leaves
1 large onion, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
¼ cup dried pearl barley
½ cup mixed dried lentils
1 cup of frozen peas
“some” vegetable broth
2 tbsp of flour
dried herbs to taste (I liked it with rosemary, thyme, and sage)