Guinness Lamb Stew

For the first day in a while it’s not bitter cold, but the new Cooking Light has a whole section on stew so that’s where I ended up.  I chose a lamb stew for something a little different and because I love lamb.  This is a dish that’s good to make on a day you’re going to be doing things around the house. It’s 3 1/2 hours start to finish, but there are long stretches in the middle when the stew is doing its thing without you.  It’s Saturday and I’m supposed to be cleaning, laundering, etc. so I thought I’d give it a go.

First, a note about buying boneless leg of lamb.  It’s about $8 a pound right now, which isn’t hideous, but as a general rule it comes “whole” which means you’re looking at 5-6 lbs.  That’s $40-$50 of lamb.  If you’re not sure you’ll like it or have another use for it buy the leg of lamb steaks instead.  It’s the same price per pound, but the steaks are about a pound each so you can just buy what you need for this recipe.  The recipe calls for 2 1/2 pounds and I had more like 2 lbs.  Close enough.  If you want to stretch the recipe just add more vegetables.  This is a pretty standard root vegetable configuration:  carrots, potatoes and turnips.  I’m sure a rutabaga or parsnip substitution would be fine if that’s what you have or what you like.  Just be sure you use a potato that holds together.

I followed the recipe pretty closely.  I measured and everything.  I did substitute dried thyme for the fresh, but I used fresh rosemary.  The neighbor has a rosemary bush so that’s always easy for me to come by.  If you’re using dried herbs just remember to cut the amount by 1/2 or more.  I also substituted a local Legend Brewing Company porter for the Guinness.  I don’t drink porters or stouts or the like so I didn’t want to buy a whole 6-pack.  The store didn’t have a big bottle of Guinness so I got the Legend instead.  I’m sure it’s a fine substitution.

This is one of those recipes you’ll really want to read all the way through before you start it.  It essentially comes together in 2 parts.  The first part is the aromatics and meat which simmer in the beer for 1 1/4 hours.  That’s your first break to do other things.  The second part is the vegetables.  It all simmers another 1 1/2 hours so that’s your second reprieve from the kitchen.  Don’t worry about timing everything so it finishes exactly at dinner time if it’s easier for you to do it earlier in the day.  Stew can always be reheated.  Mine finished about an hour before I planned to eat so I just turned the heat off and left the addition of the mustard until I’d reheated it and was ready to serve.

The stew is dark and rich and yummy.  I served it with whole wheat bread and the lovely salad that my friend brought.

Good? Warm yumminess.
Easy? It takes a long time and has many steps, but nothing advanced.
Good for company? Sure, not pretty, but good.
Special shopping? Lamb. Get it locally if you can.

Guinness Lamb Stew

Ingredients

8 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 cups Guinness Stout
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
2 cups cubed peeled Yukon gold potato
2 cups 1-inch-thick diagonally sliced carrot
8 ounces baby turnips, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, thyme, and rosemary; sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place onion mixture in a large bowl. Place flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle lamb evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Dredge lamb in flour, and shake off excess. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of lamb mixture to pan; sauté for 6 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add browned lamb to onion mixture. Repeat the procedure with remaining lamb and remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

2. Add beer to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 5 minutes). Return onion mixture and lamb to pan. Stir in the tomato paste; cook 30 seconds. Add broth and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and stir in potato, carrot, and turnips. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon mustard. Ladle about 1 cup stew into each of 7 bowls; sprinkle evenly with parsley.

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