Navarine of Lamb:

Navarine of Lamb:

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:      3 hours in two sessions (2+1), ideally with an overnight rest between.

Course:        Main

Serves:        8

Rating:         3:  Moderate, but well worth the effort and time put in, as this version is a twice-cooked dish; cooked one day, left overnight to cool and then heated through again the following day.

Navarine is a low-cost but absolutely delicious French lamb stew with various root vegetables and button onions cooked in a two-session format.

It’s called Navarine because of the turnips (Turnip = Navet in French).  Make your own decisions as to what veg should be put into it.  Turnips are not actually compulsory, even though the name might suggest so.

For 8 people, find:

  • 2 kg of some sort of cheap, boneless stewing lamb (probably boned-out neck).
  • Root veg – carrots, turnips, potatoes
  • Celery
  • Button onions – the cheapest ones from the supermarket
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • A good dollop/squeeze of tomato puree
  • A dollop (that is ‘a dollop’, not ‘a good dollop……’) of whole grain mustard.  Yeah, right….whatever!  Face…bovvered….?
  • Left-over red wine (A friend of mine has to ask…. “Is there such a thing as LEFT-OVER wine?”)
  • Two mugs of stock (see Tricks’n’Tips)
  • Some fresh thyme – if fresh is not available, use dried
  • Fresh chopped parsley if you can get hold of it – a hefty handful
  • Four tablespoons of flour of some sort
  • A large saucepan that will also go into the oven (cast iron le Creusot?) or a large oven dish and a saucepan.

Method:

  • If the meat is not already cubed, cut to 1” cubes on a chopping board. If it’s already cubed, just trim off any really large lumps of fat.  Don’t be over-fussy with trimming as the long, slow cooking will melt away most of the now-grotty-looking bits – that’s one of the beauties of this dish, it makes beautiful food from relatively cheap cuts of meat.
  • Put some olive oil and butter into the saucepan, allow it to melt and mingle, and then introduce the lamb….Lamb, this is butter and oil….Butter and oil this is Lamb……
  • Turn the heat up to high. There needs to be space in the pan for the lamb to brown.  If the lamb is too crowded in the pan, it will start to sweat, lose moisture and refuse to brown.  We want the surface to brown, to enhance the lamb flavours – give it space.  You may have to do this in several batches, adding further oil/butter as necessary, to get it all browned properly.  The browning process intensifies the wonderful taste of the relatively cheaper cut of lamb so do not miss this out!
  • Put all the lamb back into the saucepan when browned, and bung in the flour.
  • Stir it all in with the oil, butter, juices, etc so that they are all really well absorbed.
  • Put the wine into frying pan to ‘de-glaze’ it and stir/scrape all the sticky bits into the heating wine. It will SHUSH dramatically….. just pretend you’re a chef.  If using two pans, pour the contents of the (now cleaner) frying pan into the saucepan.
  • Add the stock. Boil up.
  • Add the root veg, onions, garlic and everything else except the parsley.  If the saucepan is suitable for the oven, put on the lid and pop into the oven at gas mk 2 for a couple of hours.
  • Check after an hour to ensure it is not drying out. Add more stock (or wine) if necessary.
  • If the pan is not suitable for use in the oven, tip all the contents into an oven dish and cover with foil or a lid.
  • After the two hours, check it for liquid and leave it in the now switched-off oven – overnight if possible.

It really is worth doing this dish over two days.  Honest.

  • The following day, with a fish slice or spatula or something wide and flat, carefully lift off as much of the fat layer that has now formed on the top of the stew into a cup and deal with it appropriately (see Tricks’n’Tips – dealing with fats). This makes it much nicer and, of course, lower fat!  If it was oven cooked in an oven dish, put it all now into a large saucepan – if necessary, borrow one from the rather pretty little miss that you spotted down the road the other day…. then you can ask her to dinner as repayment…..
  • Put the pan over a medium heat and bring to simmering, then turn down to the lowest heat possible. Try not to disturb the pan too much as the meat should be nice’n’tender by now….we don’t want a mushy mess.
  • Cover and leave to simmer really gently over the lowest heat possible for an hour.
  • Put in the chopped parsley but don’t stir. It is now ready.
  • Serve with Dauphinoise potatoes, French beans, Chantenay carrots and a great big smile on your smug face.

You’ll never taste lamb like it again – until you cook Navarine of Lamb again – which you most certainly will want to do. (Ideally, in a smaller batch, for you and that rather pretty little miss ….)

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