Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Lamb, Root Veg & Barley Stew


Last week I made this spectacularly well flavoured stew, the very essence of winter antidote. It wasn't actually meant to be. I wanted some lamb chops but then, on arrival at the Ginger Pig, they had lamb neck chops that simply beckoned from behind the counter. They were also possibly the very cheapest meat in the shop, frugal is good. It was seriously cold at the time and the possibility of tender meat nestled in a myriad of root veg was simply too too tempting. What can I say - it's been an age since I ate barley in anything.

Still have the miele steamer. Have read here and there that steaming produces more flavourful meat as well as tastier vegetables, which I was willing to believe even if I don't know exactly how that comes about but it definitely enhances fresh produce's own natural flavours. I was surprised at just how intense the flavour was, how richly it all came together. Proper feasting!

There is a bit of oil used in this recipe but I have to say my consumption of oils has plummeted recently, back to almost nothing. After sealing the meat on top of the hob I steamed this stew for a couple of hours. Next day the resultant meal was easily one of the nicest things I have made all winter, more intensely flavoured than slow cooked stews but at the same time retaining a delicacy of taste. Even after a couple of hours cooking then being left overnight before reheating next day the vegetables didn't collapse into a mush and yet the meat could not have been more tender. A definite winner.

Lamb, Root Vegetable and Barley Stew
6 lamb neck chops
2 tbspns plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tbspn oil
100g smoked bacon, roughly chopped
1 large swede, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
4 celery stalks, washed and chopped into 2cm lengths
3 carrots, heritage if you can find some just for their lovely purple hue
1 large onion, peeled, quartered and stuck with 4 cloves
100g pearl barley
Bouquet garni of parsley, rosemary, thyme and bay
750ml lamb stock or water

Dredge the lamb chops in the seasoned flour to coat well. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the bacon and lamb chops. Cook over a medium heat, stirring, till the meat is crusted with rich brown spots.

Add all the rest of the ingredients, topping up with water if necessary so that the liquid covers everything and bring the lot to a simmer.

At this point, if you have a steam oven, set it at 100C and put the uncovered pan in to cook for 2 hours. If you don't have a steam oven, cover the pan, reduce the heat to ultra low, and cook for 2 hours on the hob.

Remove the pan from whatever source of heat you cooked with, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Reheat to serve next day with some waxy potatoes.

I could not have wished for a nicer meal. Revisited the pleasure the following night and have a final serving in a tub in the freezer. Oh joy!

1 comment:

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