Lamb Stew with Butternut Squash & Carrots

April can be a dreary time of year in the Pacific Northwest, when the reason behind the existence of a cozy coffee shop on every other street corner becomes apparent. This Sunday afternoon’s anticipation of spring warmth was salved with trying out this lamb stew recipe, with a side of netflix marathon. I don’t think I’ve ever tried cooking lamb at home, but starting with it in cubed stewed form seemed a good way to start. Got a chance to break in a recently acquired dutch oven (ostensibly bought for car camping cake purposes).

Lamb Stew with Butternut Squash & Carrots
Altered a minuscule degree from: Food 52’s Lamb Stew
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pound lamb shoulder, in 1-inch cubes
Salt
1medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped carrots (added more, I lurve stewed carrots)
2 4 cloves garlic, chopped (anything with 2 cloves of garlic, is worth making with 4!)
28 ounces chopped tomatoes (I cheated with canned. In the winter they seem to have more flavor than fresh tomatoes..)
2 cups beef stock
2 sprigs thyme 2 tsp dried thyme
1 sprig rosemary 1 tsp dried rosemary
2 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch)
1/2 tsp butter

Ingredients marshalled: sear meat, set aside, saute other stuff, pour on tomatoes and herbs, simmer 2 hours, add butternut squash.
Ingredients marshalled: sear meat, set aside, saute other stuff, pour on tomatoes and herbs, simmer 2 hours, add butternut squash.

Procedure
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a Dutch oven or saucepan with a lid heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the lamb with salt, and when the oil is hot, brown half of the cubes on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove lamb to a plate with a slotted spoon and add more oil if necessary. Brown the rest of the lamb and then set aside.
2. On medium low, add butter, the onions, carrots and garlic to pot. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
3. Add the tomatoes, stock, herbs and the browned lamb, along with any juices that have accumulated. Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to get up all the brown tasty bits from the bottom of the pot.
4. When the stew comes to a boil, cover the pot and put in the oven. Cook until the lamb is just tender, 2 to 3 hours. Optional: in the mean time, cook some brown rice, and/or butter some naan and add garlic powder and bake. It took me about 2 hours for the lamb to start falling apart.
5. Stir the butternut squash into the stew, re-cover it and return the pot to the oven until the squash is tender, another 20 to 25 minutes. Optional: serve with rice or naan.

This was a nice way to try out the new cast iron dutch oven I got. Now all I have to do is lift some weights so it isn’t so heavy any more. It was pretty difficult to put away left overs without being able to lift it with one arm. I also cheated a bit, using dried herbs, and snagging a box of pre-cut butternut squash from Whole Foods rather than sawing through my own whole squash. Looking forward to being set for a main dish for the next day or two..or three or four. Three other ways I thought of eating this in leftover form, in case you have a skewed mouth-to-portions-available situation like I did:

  • add chickpeas, roll in naan bread toasted with butter and garlic,
  • pour on top of pasta and top with parmesan cheese,
  • saute some thickly-sliced zucchini and onions and mix it in (the tomato cuts some bitterness of the zucchini),
  • freeze in single portions for a day when you have time to defrost but none to cook and want a hearty meal
  • stuff some puff pastry with the stew and bake until golden.
3-4 hours later: stew complete!
3-4 hours later: stew complete!

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5 stars.
Looks so familiar, but everything is slightly different! Orange you glad I tried it, just so I could make that pun?
Likelihood of Repeat: 70%
Mmm, nothing quite like filling your house with the smell of savory stew on a lazy Sunday. This is relatively low maintenance with darn high benefit/yield, so I definitely would like to make it again.
Lesson Learned: “2 to 3 hours” + “20-25” + prep = 3-5 hours of total process time?! Better get a full season of tv watching ready, or maybe a good book.

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