Spring can be a bit unpredictable. Just last weekend it was 80 degrees in Brooklyn. Followed immediately by a blustery 50 degree day. The variability is actually one of my favorite parts of spring. It opens up a full spectrum of dishes to try. Some days it’s warm, and you feel like grilling. But on chillier evenings, you can still enjoy maybe your last bowl of soup until fall comes around.
Last year for Easter, I felt the need to make lamb. It’s just so traditional. Considering I’m not a huge fan of lamb, it’s not something I cook often, with the exception of my at least once-a-month lamb with peas rotational dish. I wasn’t about to invest in a while rack of lamb. There’s nothing worse than splurging on a fancy cut of meat, only to mess it up. I did not want to risk an overcooked lamb dish. So instead, my mind shifted to stew.
Like many braises, it’s a dish that can be cooked well in advance, letting you spend your evening with your guests, rather than holed up in the kitchen. Slow stewed lamb, crisp asparagus, tender carrots and fresh herbs come together in this spring-on-a-plate dish. True when I made this dish, it was too early for local asparagus, so I had to fudge things a bit. But any day now, we should see those tender stalks shooting up at farm stands. A perfect mother’s day supper, me thinks.
Spring Lamb Stew with Green Herbs (adapted from Cooking Light) Serves 6
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter
- 4 c chopped onions
- 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 3 lb lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 bottle fruity white wine (I used gewürztraminer)
- 1 c chicken broth
- Generous pinch of salt
- A few cranks of fresh ground pepper
- 1 tbsp each chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano, mixed together
- 1/2 lb turnips, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 lb carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 lb asparagus, trimmed of woody ends and cut into 2-inch pieces
Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic to pan and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Spoon onion mixture into a large bowl. Add half the lamb to the pan and saute until browned. Remove from pan and add to the onion mixture. Add the remaining lamb to the pan, brown and add to onion mixture.
Add wine to the pan, scrapping the pan to loosen the browned bits. Return lamb mixture to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Add half the herb mixture and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and summer for 90 minutes, or until lamb is very tender.
Add turnips and carrots. Continue to simmer, covered, for 40 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add asparagus and cook until asparagus is bright green and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining herb mixture. Serve aside roasted new potatoes and plenty of bread to soak up the sauce.