The following is a guest post from Dave, who really did give himself a blister cutting the lamb for this recipe. Apparently we need to invest in some better knives.
“Guinness lamb stew, you say? Well I’ll make that for you, Heather.” – me
I was excited to make lamb stew Sunday, mostly because I love the taste of lamb and the taste of Guinness, and it was my first foray into turnip-cooking. When we went to buy the ingredients, there was really only one snag: we needed boneless leg of lamb, and all we could find was bone-in. No big deal, I thought. I’ll just cut that tender baby sheep meat off the bone and cook it up.
This stew recipe estimated a three-hour cook time, give or take, so I yanked the shanks out of the fridge after cooking up the onions, thyme and rosemary (which smelled phenomenal) and got to cutting around 4:30.
Wait, did I say cutting? No, that’s what knives normally do. What I did was ineffectually glance knife blows off a lamb’s leg like it was Robocop’s titanium farm friend. What I failed to realize going into this recipe was that lambs, the curious little scamps who flit about our sleeping exercises, are actually indestructible creatures who laugh in the face of chefs who use knives purchased at a Big Lots! about seven years ago. Part of the problem was the fat on the shank, which had the tensile strength of carbon filament and the piercing resistance of Kevlar.
I hacked, poked and prodded the meat on those little lamb legs in what assuredly looked like one of Babe’s nightmares. I’m sure if it had been filmed, vegetarians would use the horrifying footage to scare kids into meat-free diets. I finally ended up with a decent pile of mangled pieces of lamb for the stew about an hour later.
Luckily, the stew tasted really good, and the actual blister I got from using the knife was definitely worth it.
The recipe, which came from … some calendar of recipes Heather owns, is here:
Guinness Lamb Stew
8 tsp olive oil, divided (or just pour it as you need it, like a normal person)
2 cups chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1.5 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2.5 pounds BONELESS leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into one-inch cubes
2 cups Guinness Stout
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups of beef broth
2 cups cubed, peeled Yukon gold potato (we used honey gold, which are probably the better choice)
2 cups of 1-inch diagonally-cut carrots
8 oz turnips
1 tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
Heat a large Dutch oven or a regular pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of oil to the pot. Add onion, thyme and rosemary; sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. By “occasionally” the recipe meant continuously, unless you want burnt ingredients. After five or so minutes, dump that stuff out into a nearby bowl.
Salt and pepper the wonderfully cut and not-at-all mangled lamb chunks and coat in flour. Bring the pot to medium-high heat again and pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add half the lamb to the pot, and brown on all sides. The recipe says this will only take six minutes, but it also says that unicorns exist.
Once browned, pour into the bowl with the onion mixture and repeat with the second half of the lamb chunks.
Add beer to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally and reducing to about half the initial amount. Pour in the onion-lamb mixture and tomato paste, stirring while cooking for about 30 seconds. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring as often as you like, depending on how awesome the Law and Order: SVU episode you’re watching is.
Uncover the pot and put in the carrots, potatoes and turnip. Simmer uncovered for about one-and-a-half hours. Stir in some more salt and pepper to taste and the mustard. Throw on some parsley when serving.
Next time I will try it using a pale ale instead. Oh, and I’ll bring a chainsaw for the damn lamb.
[Heather’s note: It is in your best interest to mop up the leftover broth in your bowl with a heavily-buttered piece of bread. Or three.]