The secret to making a seriously good lamb stew is seriously good lamb stock.
You don’t need to use any herbs or Worcestershire sauce to create a deep savoury lamb flavour, just damn good stock.
Eight years ago, I spent a whole year struggling to create the best stock you could lay your hands on when I was the Waitrose senior food buyer. The food technologist and I would trek down to this tiny factory in Dorset every month to try and bring this range of stocks, kicking and screaming, onto the supermarket shelf. We used to drive along the A308 past Stonehenge which always cheered me up no end.
You probably won’t believe this now, but at that time you couldn’t buy a proper stock (bones simmered with some vegetables for hours). The choice was stock cubes (practically 90% salt and other things you don’t want to know about), dried flakes of veg or a thick slurry which was basically a watered down stock cube.
Miraculous ingredient: lamb neck fillet, red wine, Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients lamb stock
New season lamb stew with carrots and new potatoes
INGREDIENTS 1 lamb neck fillet (250g – 300g) cut into 4cm pieces
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100ml red wine (the same quality as you would drink)
6 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces (half or thirds)
250g small new potatoes
1 tablespoon of plain flour 500ml lamb stock (Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients lamb stock is the BEST!) Coarse sea salt and black pepper to season
Place a dry medium size sauce pan (with a lid) on a low heat to warm up while you prepare the ingredients.
Cut the lamb neck fillet into 4cm thick slices. Add all the oil to the sauce pan and brown the pieces of lamb. You might need to do this in 2 batches so you don’t over crowd the pan, cause the temperature to drop and then the meat ‘boils’ rather than browns.
Season the lamb pieces with salt and pepper. Add the red wine and simmer until all the wine has evaporated, about 8 minutes.Add the flour and stir thoroughly to mix all the flour into the fat. Add all the lamb stock plus 200ml of water, the peeled and halved carrots and the whole baby new potatoes.
Bring the stew to a simmer, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting, balance the lid on top so it’s a little bit open and cook very gently for 2 hours. Check the stew and give it a good stir every 30 minutes. If it becomes too dry add more water.
The liquid will reduce dramatically and thicken after 2 hours. The stew is ready when the lamb is so tender it can be cut with a fork and both the carrots and potatoes squish to a mush when pressed. Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper to your liking.
Serve with a simple green lettuce salad.
Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking 2 hours, serves 4