Thursday, March 16, 2017

Recipe of the Week: Lamb Stew with Swiss Chard

Go n-eiri an t-adh leat

(literally meaning: "that luck may rise with you", this short Irish blessing is pronounced Guh nye ree taw laht.

St. Patrick's Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural and religious celebration held on March 17th, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick.

It's a public holiday in Ireland and Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the British overseas territory of Montserrat.  It is also widely celebrated by the Irish (and non-Irish) around the world.

I think it's just a great excuse to cook lamb!


Lamb Stew with Swiss Chard


1/4 cup fried porcini mushrooms
4 springs of thyme
(1) 3 inch strip of orange zest
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
(4) 1 pound lamb shanks
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
(1) 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1 quart water
2 medium carrots, diced
2 small turnips, peeled and diced
1/2 pound Swiss chard, stemmed and rough chopped
6 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
1 whole wheat baguette


Preheat oven to 275F.  

In the center of a 5 inch piece of dampened cheesecloth, combine the porcini mushrooms, thyme, orange zest and bay leaf.  Tie into a neat package with kitchen string.  This is your bouquet garni.

In a cast iron pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil.  Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper and cook 2 shanks at a time over medium-high heat until brown (about 8 minutes).  Transfer lamb to a platter and repeat with the remaining shanks. Reduce heat in pan.

Add rest of oil, onions and garlic to the pan.  Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 7 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and increase temperature to medium.  Stir in the wine and simmer until reduced by half.

Return the lamb to the pot, then add the water and the bouquet garni.  Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the shanks and bake in the oven for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, turn the shanks, cover again and bake for another 1 hour or until the meat is tender.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the carrots and turnips until tender, about 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a bowl.  

After approximately 2 hours, remove the shanks from the oven.  Increase the oven temperature to 400F.  

Transfer the shanks to a bowl and let cool slightly.  Return the casserole to the oven and simmer the braising liquid uncovered, skimming the surface of fat occasionally.  Continue to cook liquid for 15 minutes. The sauce should begin to reduce. Squeeze the bouquet garni into the liquid, then discard. 

Cut or tear the meat from the bones and discard the bones.  Return the meat to the casserole. 

Add the cooked carrots and turnips and the chopped Swiss chard to the casserole.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes, uncovered in the oven and then remove from the oven to serve.

In shallow bowls, garnished stew with parsley along side thick slices of baguette.

Note:  For a strong but not over-powering compliment, pair with a Cotes-du-Rhone made mainly from Syrah, not Grenache grape.