Regular blog visitors will know that I am a huge fan of stews especially if they happen to be one-pot wonders. There’s something incredibly satisfying and comforting about preparing and eating a stew. The prep time is usually minimal and the slow cooking brings out the best possible flavour and texture out of affordable cuts of meat. I am very happy to get behind Red Tractor’s Simply Beef & Lamb campaign to celebrate the peasant food trend, and inspire families to rediscover traditional cooking techniques from around the world that are simple and hearty.
Although stews are usually associated with winter and in the UK, these kind of dishes are popular around the world in cold and hot climates alike. It’s easy to be inspired by looking at slow-cooked Indian curries and aromatic Asian stews or recipes closer to home like Goulash or boeuf Bourguignon. And you don’t need to slave over a stove to achieve domestic goddess status (at least within your family). The oven or the slow cooker will do most of the work for you, plus there’s less washing up if you only use one pot. It’s what I call a win-win.
When choosing your meat for stews remember that cheaper cuts, with a little bit of fat on them, will tenderise beautifully as a result of the slow cooking method. Whether its beef or lamb you are using, look out for a quality mark like the Red Tractor logo which guarantees the meat you are buying is farm assured. In this recipe I used rolled shoulder of lamb and the meat was incredibly tender and flavourful. I didn’t really follow a recipe here, simply decided to combine textures and ingredients that marry well together.
900g | 2 lbs rolled shoulder of lamb, trimmed of fat
4 large floury potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
4 large shallots, peeled and quartered
400g | 14oz cherry tomatoes, halved (or use tinned chopped tomatoes)
250ml | 1 cup red wine
250ml | 1 cup lamb or vegetable stock
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped or use 1 tbsp anchovy paste
large handful red and green pitted olives, sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus extra to garnish
2 tbsp runny honey
1-2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
1 small whole garlic or 6 cloves, peeled
salt and freshly ground pepper
2. Season the lamb on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy lidded pot or casserole and brown the meat thoroughly – this will take about 10 minutes.
3. Remove the lamb from the pot, reduce the heat and add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes, until soft and transparent.
4. Slice the end of the garlic if using whole and add to the pot (or add the garlic cloves) together with the potatoes, thyme, tomatoes and anchovies. Cook for five minutes.
5. Add the wine, stock and honey and bring to a simmer. Stir in the olives and return the lamb to the pot. Cover and cook in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the potatoes are fork tender.
6. Serve with crusty bread to mop up all the delicious juices and some good red wine.