This recipe wraps up the April collection of French Fridays With Dorie's recipes that some loved and some tolerated. That's ok, everyone has something they're not crazy about. Lamb Navarin Printanier is a lovely aromatic stew that is nice on a cool spring day, or a crisp autumn supper. If you like Boeuf Bourguignon, this is for you. But you'll have to have your wine on the side with this one. Earlier in the week, I called the local butcher and asked about the availability of lamb shoulder. No dice. He did have a leg of lamb that could be boned out, and cubed. We talked about the amount, and I picked it up today. My idea of trimmed and the butcher's idea of trimmed were very different. I like the meat very "clean". None of the silver skin stuff, very little fat, no icky stuff. So I re-trimmed the meat, and ended up with quite a bit less than I had expected, but I'm sure that each bite will be good. Here's another interesting tidbit. In an article I found about lamb stews, the leg is not suggested because when it's braised, it can become stringy. Yikes! It was too late for re-do's, so I'll have to see what happens after the stew is finished. I decided to make up for less meat with more vegetables. I added two or three more carrots, one more turnip, and doubled the onions & potatoes. That's just fine with me. Most days I'd rather eat vegetables than meat anyway. Here's the meat pre-trimming.
The recipe starts off with searing the meat. Hmmm, I guess I forgot what lamb smells like. Not bad, just not beef. I didn't have to do a lot of rearranging or batches. The meat had a nice even sear, and made lots of nice crispy fond in the bottom of the cast enamel pot.
The meat was combined with the stock, herbs and tomato paste and set to simmer. I have a very cool item to tell all of you about. This isn't an advertisement, and I'm not a spokesmodel, but I found something really cool, created by Michael Ruhlman. If you make your own stock (which I usually try do, but didn't this time), and use cheesecloth to stain, here's just the ticket. He has three reusable cloth squares that can be used to strain yogurt, stock or anything else that may need straining. If you don't know about Michael, he's a great writer, and has several books. The one I recommend most is Making of a Chef. He writes about his education at the Culinary Institute of America through of the eyes of a journalist. A great easy read.
My favorite part of the recipe was caramelizing the vegetables. It took about 10 minutes, and they were glistening, golden and not soft as Dorie instructs in the recipe. Here's a before and after photo of the vegetables.
We found some delicious fresh English peas in the store! Just perfect for finishing touch. I'm not going to serve the Navarin until tomorrow, so the peas will go in after I reheat tomorrow. It's been awhile, but I'm going to bring it back to temp ala Sous Vide. Using that technique, the meat won't overcook and or get rubbery like it might if I used a microwave.
The finished stew is delicious. The lamb tasted perfectly tender. No stringy meat. So go ahead, go crazy and use leg of lamb if you want to!
Happy Spring! If you're looking for other great spring dishes, you might want to take a look at these for inspiration.