A twist on a classic

Peter Walters, Keele University’s Executive Chef, turns a winter stew into a spring-time treat

The French have really good names to describe food, just look at all these options for a stew: ragout, pot au feu, blanquette, fricassée, navarin. The problem with the word ‘stew’ is that it makes a dish sound like something served in the depths of winter: it’s warming, heavy and rich. But this issue, I’ve sprung a new idea from a classic recipe. This dish has all the hallmarks of spring and could add a renewed lightness to our diets as we crawl out of the cold winter. So gather in the fresh produce and give this one a try. 

Navarin Printanière Spring Lamb Stew

For 6 persons

  • 1200g lamb shoulder,
  • trimmed and diced
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 600ml lamb stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 bouquet garni including, thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf
  • 18 baby carrots
  • 12 shallots (small)
  • 12 baby turnips
  • 18 turned potatoes
  • 18 asparagus spears  
  • 50g peas
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Parsley, chopped 

1.) Trim the lamb well and cut into cubes. Heat half the oil and butter in a large saucepan and brown the meat over a high heat, being careful not to overcrowd the saucepan and therefore ‘stew’ the meat. Remove and set aside.

2.) Place the second half of the butter and oil into the saucepan and add the large chopped carrot and onion. Cook over a medium heat until beginning to soften but not brown. 

3.) Return the meat to the pan and add the garlic. Stir through the flour to coat the meat and vegetables and cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, keep stirring so as to not burn the flour. Add the bouquet garni, tomato purée and gradually stir in the stock. The sauce will thicken as you do this. Bring to the boil and cover.

4.) Reduce the heat and simmer for one and a half hours, stirring occasionally to prevent any catching to the bottom of the saucepan. Do check throughout the cooking process on the tenderness of the meat as it may only take an hour to cook.

5.) Once the lamb is tender, remove the cubes of meat from the casserole to a warm bowl. Pass the liquid through a fine sieve over the lamb, pressing the vegetables against the side to extract as much of their flavour as you can. Discard the remaining vegetable and bouquet garni. Place the lamb and sauce in a clean casserole or pan.  

6.) Prepare the baby carrots, turnips, shallots, potatoes and asparagus. Cook them in batches, separately in plenty of boiling salted water until tender. Drain and cover, set them aside in a warm place. Stir through the baby peas and cooked baby vegetables. Return to a simmer for 5 minutes to warm everything through.

7.) Finely chop some parsley and stir this through the casserole just before serving. Serve with some crusty bread or a good mound of creamy mashed potatoes.  


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