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Spiced Butternut Squash Lamb Stew

13 Dec

This dish is a wonderful testament to the adaptability and usefulness of leftovers.  By taking the main components of lamb stew with red wine, potatoes, and carrots and adding some fresh spices and butternut squash, I transformed leftovers that would have been delicious but the same into something both delicious and new.  The aromatic cumin, paprika, and ginger combined with the sweet butternut squash changed the original lamb stew into something different, interesting, and delectable.

The sweetness of the butternut squash really worked well with the rich, savory lamb and it’s stewing liquid.  When married with the cumin, paprika, and ginger, the entire combination sang.  I heated up the leftovers today and was even more impressed with them this time around.

If you don’t have leftovers from the lamb stew with red wine, potatoes, and onions, I suggest simmering some tomato sauce with a glug or two of red wine and thyme for awhile to allow the flavors to meld.  Brown up your lamb shank and then either braise it in the oven, covered, for a couple of hours or simmer on the stove top for a couple of hours.  You could also substitute cubed stew meat, although I think the inclusion of the bones goes a long way toward explaining the richness of the sauce.  Skim off the fat, set aside, and follow the recipe as suggested.

Spiced Butternut Squash Lamb Stew

1 cup white rice, cooked according to package instructions

1 lamb shank, leftover from lamb stew with red wine, potatoes, and carrots

2 cups liquid, leftover from lamb stew with red wine, potatoes, and carrots

1 tbs. olive oil

1″ piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into 1″ dice

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. coriander

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Remove the meat from the bone of the lamb shank and roughly chop.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed sauce pot.  Add ginger and onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and ginger is fragrant, about 4-6 minutes.

Add butternut squash and all seasonings.  Stir to combine.  Add leftover liquid from lamb stew with red wine, potatoes, and carrots.  Cover pot and reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer 2o minutes.  At this point, squash should be mostly tender.

Add lamb meat and stir well to combine.  Taste sauce for seasonings and adjust as necessary.  Cover pot and simmer another 10 minutes until meat is heated through.

Serve over white rice.

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Lamb Stew with Red Wine, Potatoes, and Carrots

12 Dec

On my way home from my Constitutional Law final (wait, wait, is there substance to the 10th Amendment?!) I decided to grab some nice beer, a good looking cut of meat, and a few ingredients so I could spend the afternoon relaxing, cooking, and watching movies on Netflix.  I wandered back and forth in the meat section for quite some time before coming to a decision, debating between mouth-watering morsels like chicken thighs, flank steak, and pork loins before finally settling on a couple of different cuts of lamb to make a stew.  I shoved my less-than-stellar analysis of the Privileges and Immunities Clause from my brain while watching some movies and flipping through cook books to decide what to make.  I settled on a slight adaptation of a Julia Child recipe, based on what I had on hand.  I know, I know, who in their right mind adapts Julia Child?  But I was missing a couple of ingredients and had a couple others I wanted to use up, so I went for it.

And this turned out so unbelievably good.  The lamb was moist, tender, and cooked to perfection.  The sauce was rich, meaty, and filled with the delicate flavors of herbs.  The vegetables were tender and hearty.  It was the perfect cold-Cleveland-night-following-an-exam-which-went-questionably-well meal (or, had-a-long-day-at-work meal, or you-want-to-make-something-for-a-special-occasion meal or you-just-really-love-lamb-and-this-tastes-fucking-delicious meal, whatever suits your fancy).  It was hearty, comforting, and soul-warming.  The lamb made it feel like an indulgence, though by choosing more inexpensive cuts, this meal was made incredibly affordable.  In fact, it’s made mainly with pantry staples.

The recipe, admittedly, is a little bit fussy – a lot of removing ingredients from the cooking vessel and replacing them, and skimming fat.  But it was totally worth it, and exactly what I was looking for on a day when I wanted to be distracted from all the studying I had yet to do.  Nothing is very difficult and it’s very hard to mess up, but what you are left with on your plate is divine.

Lamb Stew with Red Wine, Potatoes, and Carrots

Adapted from Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking

1.18 lb. lamb shank

1.27 lbs. bone-in lamb stewing meat

1 tbs. olive oil

1 tbs. granulated sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

3 tbs. whole wheat flour

2-3 cups beef stock

14 oz. can basil & herb crushed tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

2-3 large thyme sprigs, tied together with a piece of kitchen twine

3 bay leaves

3-4 small potatoes, peeled

3-4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ chunks

Preheat oven to 450º.

Heat chicken fat and olive oil in an oven-proof casserole dish over medium-high heat.  Add pieces of stewing lamb and shank, working in batches if necessary, to brown.  Return all browned lamb pieces to the casserole dish.  Sprinkle lamb with sugar and toss over moderately high heat for 3-4 minutes until the sugar as caramelized.

Toss meat with salt and pepper.  Then toss with flour.  Set casserole in preheated oven for 4-5 minutes.  Toss the meat and return it to the oven for another 4-5 minutes.

Remove the casserole and turn the oven down to 350º.

Remove the lamb from the casserole and pour out the fat.  Return to medium heat on the stove top.  Add wine and stock, scraping the bottom of the dish.  Return the lamb to the casserole and bring to a simmer over medium heat for a few minutes, shaking a few times to combine.  Add the tomato sauce, garlic, thyme, and bar leaf.  Bring to a simmer for one minute.  If necessary, add more liquid to almost cover the meat.

Put the lid on the casserole and set in the lower third of the oven.  Cook about an hour and a half.

Remove from oven and remove lamb from the casserole.  Pour liquid into a bowl and allow to settle.  Meanwhile, remove any loose bones from the casserole dish and discard.  Return lamb to the casserole dish.  Skim the fat off the top of the bowl, taste for seasonings, and pour over lamb into the casserole.

Add the potatoes and carrots.

Return to oven and recover.  Cook another hour or so until the meat is cooked to 140º (for medium) and vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork.

You can either serve the stewing pieces/shank whole on top of a bed of vegetables with a few ladles of broth (pictured) or strip the meat from the bones and then return it to the pan for a brief simmer to warm through and serve it that way.

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