December 6, 2012
Tis the season! No, not for gifts. Well, not just for gifts. Tis the season for STEWS, like this aromatic Greek-style lamb stew.
Here’s the deal: I’m not a soup person. That’s right, let me say it again so that you good people can get the say whats out of the way. I. Don’t. Love. Soup. I like it, a lot sometimes, but mostly soup’s just okay. And, no, the right soup won’t come along and fix me. I was born this way.
I promise that even though I don’t love soup, I will serve up soups recipes (amazing ones, even), because I know that you like soup. The boys in my house are fans, as well. But lets remember that there’s winter eating beyond soup. There’s also stew.
Stew is my go-to warm, cozy meal. I love it with meat, I love it without meat. (This easy Greek-style string bean stew is one of my favorite comfort foods of all time.) I just love simmering a bunch of delicious ingredients in a sauce and seeing what kind of magic happens. Stew, like soup I suppose, is a wonderful example of how the whole can be so much greater than the sum of its parts.
This particular stew is also a wonderful example of how simple Greek cooking kicks ass. Just saying.
You’ll need about 1 hour and 45 minutes to make this all in, so it might be a weekend recipe. The easiest weekend recipe ever since most of the cooking time is unattended. If you work and/or hang with your kids at home, this is a great thing to put on the stove when you have other stuff to do, which is all day. After browning the meat, this just simmers pretty much on its own. I serve it with couscous since couscous takes only 5 minute to make. This is also a great first meat dish for little ones and couscous is super easy to share with them, as well. And don’t forget the feta on top. It totally makes this.
Greek-Style Lamb Stew
(can be shared with eaters 10+ mos)*
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lbs lamb shoulder, cut into 1-2″ chunks
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bulb of fennel, trimmed & chopped
1 bay leave
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup red wine (you can substitute chicken broth)
26-28 ounce package (3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups) chopped tomatoes
2 cups lamb stock or chicken broth
6 ounces (about 1 cup) pitted prunes, quartered
Crumbled Feta cheese, for garnish
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
1. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven set over medium heat. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add to pot and brown on all sides, 4-5 minutes per batch. Once browned, remove last batch of lamb from pot.
2. Add garlic and fennel and saute for about 3 minutes. Add bay leaf, cinnamon stick and allspice. Continue sauting, stirring to make sure that the spices don’t burn, until garlic and fennel are soft, another 2 minutes. Add red wine and cook off.
3. Return lamb to the pot and add tomatoes and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking another 30 minutes. Add prunes 5 minutes before cooking is done. If you want less liquid, cook for a little longer. I suggest leaving the stew on the brothy side if you plan on serving with something absorbent like couscous. Serve with crumbled feta and parsley on top.
* Note: Though it is not unsafe to feed this to younger children, I recommend dishes like this one, where meat is primary, beginning about about 10 months. It’s a personal preference more than anything, so do what’s right for you and your child.
No matter how old your eaters, be sure to puree or cut this into an age appropriate consistency. You can mix the puree into rice or oat cereal or simply pulse whatever grain you plan to serve this with right into the stew. So long as the feta is pasteurized, pulse that in, too, or mix in a dollop of plain, Greek yogurt before serving to your little one.