I had a version of this back when I first moved back to the Pacific Northwest (my home!) from where I had been living in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay Area is lovely, but it just ain’t me, you know?
Sometime during my first week back, I found myself wandering around downtown Seattle, and I popped into a Whole Foods – not my usual grocery stop but I realized I was freezing, and this store was what I happened to be standing in front of when I decided I didn’t feel like being outside anymore. I had sold my damn car in order to afford the move north, so I couldn’t hide in my car to warm up. So Whole Foods it was, and, as long as I was there, I decided to see if they had anything to eat.
As it turns out, they were serving a lamb stew in their deli section. I had never had lamb stew, but it smelled so good that I got a cup and an “individual serving” of some random white wine in the cooler section. I paid for my items, went back outside, and sat my ass out front on the cold sidewalk to eat my impromptu dinner as leaves started to fall around me. It was one of the most delightful goddamn meals I’ve ever had, both because of the bold, hearty flavors and just being back HOME. The wine didn’t hurt.
Autumn Lamb Stew
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon dried rosemary
1 heaping teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 pounds lamb stew meat preferably cut from the shoulder, approx one inch chunks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 cups small red or golden potatoes (halved if over an inch in diameter)
2 large carrots roughly chopped
1 parsnip chopped into one inch pieces
1 white turnip chopped into one inch pieces
1 sweet yellow onion cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (but thawed) green bean chopped into 1″ pieces
Optional: Cornstarch and water
In a small bowl, mix the sugar, cumin, pepper, rosemary, parsley, paprika, and salt together with a fork or your fingers or a sledge hammer (probably not necessary).
Open up your package of lamb stew meat, spread it out on the butcher paper (if that’s how you acquired it, if not, grab a bowl or do this on a cutting board), and sprinkle the mixture over the top, tossing the lamb to coat all sides.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat.
Add lamb and brown well on all sides.
Add two cups water or chicken broth if you have it on hand and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for one hour.
Add potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and onions.
Cover and continue to simmer for another hour.
Add green beans and simmer another five minutes or until green beans are tender.
Once beans are tender, and this is optional, mix a little cornstarch into a few tablespoons of water until no longer lumpy, and stir into your stew to give the liquid a little body. I like a little thickness to it, just enough to notice.
Serve on its own…or with a big hunk of crusty bread and butter and a big fat glass of wine. I prefer the latter.