The Lamb Stew I've Made a Dozen Times This Year
I've never made it the same way twice and it's always good
I have made something like this lamb stew literally a dozen times this winter, just about every time we had non-vegan company. I’ve never made it the same way twice except for the last two times because I do like the variety, but this way is my favorite, so it’s time to share. (Ask me and I’ll tell you the variations.)
I use a pressure cooker/Instant Pot for this. If you don’t have one, double or triple the cooking times, which are approximate anyway. No matter what you do, it’s not fast. There are several steps, including cooling and reheating; I usually begin this in the morning and finish it in time for dinner, but you could easily make it a two-day process. I think if you rush you could finish in three hours, as long as you were aggressive about removing the fat.
The basis is what you’d call underutilized cuts of lamb. My favorite of these is riblets – the equivalent of lamb spare ribs (which are also, since we’re approaching grilling weather, incredible par-boiled and then grilled; but I’ll get to that – remind me). I’m lucky enough to have riblets from both young and mature lamb (mutton), and they’re different enough. But you can use lamb shanks as well, and I do like to mix in a little bit of other meat, like a pork shank or a short rib. Beef chuck would be good, lamb or pork shoulder; lamb neck would perhaps be ideal but it’s not easy to get.
I serve it over rice. If I’m ambitious, I make a pilaf with onions and pimenton and saffron and sometimes even a few more spices. But if I’m lazy, I make A Pot of Rice, with salt. And that’s good enough because this stew is incredible.
One appearance note: If you use all white root vegetables, the stew will be a little dreary-looking. Thus carrots, which are of course delicious and hold their shape well, are my first choice, or at least worth including. (Same with orange sweet potatoes, but they start to disintegrate quickly.) A garnish of parsley is not a bad idea either.
Mark’s Lamb Stew
Makes: 4 to 6 servings, though it’s flexible
Time: 6 hours, largely unattended
1 cup small dried peas or beans
2 or 3 tomatoes
1 onion, not peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1 celery stalk, rinsed