As you may have noticed, ‘summer’ is not really living up to it’s promises. When most people think of summer, they think of beaches, long, warm evenings, picnics and pimms. They do not think of drizzly, chilly days and the desire to curl up in front of a fire. Sadly this is what is presented to us this year. This sorry excuse for a July is not in my good books seeing as it has only left one summer-like trace. Do you know what that is? Hayfever, cronic bloody hayfever. Not amused. As a result of this, i’m not feeling particularly enticed by the usual fair-weather fare of salads and general light eating. On the good side, my friend Brekke is over from Norway for a visit, and down staying with me in the country. Whilst we were perusaling aorund Waitrose, we both decided that a bit of comfort food was needed, namely a stew. Now i know this is more of a wintery dish, but seriously, it’s kind of cold. With that in mind we decided lamb might be just the ticket, and maybe some chorizo and a little bit of rooty veg and before we knew it, we were off. I will say one thing though, if you’re tempted to make this dish, or indeed any lamb dish, please try and buy british lamb. We have some amazing lamb in this country, especially near me where there’s dorset lamb a plenty and yet so many people still insist on buying lamb flown all the way across the world from New Zealand. Absolute madness. Obviously if you’re reading this in New Zealand (i can be optimistic can’t I?) you might want to buy the lamb from there but you get the idea. So home we bounded with our arms full of goodies and after eating a quickly thrown together antipasti style lunch, consisting of rillette, cheese, bread and salad, we got down to the business of a stew. As we ate our stew, we talked about the joys of stews (yes, i’m strange but this is the benefits of having equally food-geeky friends). They’re a meal that requires you to put so little in and yet you get something so satifying at the end of it all. There really is no excuse to not cook when it’s this easy. And it’s cheap, so don’t go giving me that either, there’s really nothing stopping you when it’s this easy.
Right, let’s get going. This will serve 3-4 depending how hungry (and greedy) you are.
Lamb and Chorizo Stew with Celeriac and Chantenay Carrots
1 small shoulder of lamb on the bone
1 white onion
1 small celeriac
4-5 inches of chorizo, peeled of the casing and thinly sliced
2 handfuls of baby chantenay carrots
1 can peeled plum tomatoes
Chop the onions, don’t worry about making them small and neat dice, just a rough chop is fine, sweat them in a little olive oil along with the baby carrots. Chop the celeriac into 2 inch dice and add to the pot along with the sliced chorizo.
Whilst this is sweating away nicely, in a separate pan, heat a little oil and sear the lamb on all sides until it’s golden brown. Once thats done, pop it in the other pot, trying to make sure you have half the veggies on top and half underneath the lamb. Add the can of tomatoes and just enough water/ chicken stock to cover the lamb, season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 3 hours with the lid on. This is why this is great, you can wander off and do what you like for a few hours, catch up on some paperwork, have a nap, go for a walk. Personally we used the time to bake a cake and some brownies- more food, surprise surprise. Also, fear not if you totally forget about this bad boy blipping away, if it cooks for 4,5,6 hours, it’ll be none the worse for it. The desired effect is that the meat simply falls off the bone in shreds, once it does that, you’re good to go. Strain the liquid into another saucepan and reduce it by about half. Shread the lamb, discarding the bone and the fat and add it back into the sauce along with the veg. All that’s left for you to do is plonk the pot down on the table with a hunk of crusty bread and let everyone tuck in.
Now, as Brekke pointed out, this is far from being the sexiest plate of food, but a bowl of this and a nice glass of red wine and suddenly you won’t be so troubled by summer’s elusiveness. So if you’re finding yourself getting a little grumbly, try this and i promise you’ll suddenly feel a lot less whingy. I would reccomend that you don’t then eat a massive brownie though, there’s a bit of a food coma situation going on here right now.