Here is a recipe that I set out thinking would be dead straightforward, precise and quick. I managed to complicate it up a bit, but it’s still nothing fancy. It’s perfect for the grey, windy weather we’re getting in Scotland at the minute – we’re definitely entering the Time of Stew.
When I was buying the ingredients for this stew, I found lamb bones on the shelf next to the other lamb products – dirt cheap they were, too, at 20p for 200g. I bought them to put in the stew, thinking that they would help thicken it nicely without having to add flour and run the risk of the gravy getting too thick or gluey. I kind of forgot that I’d have to take them back out again in the end, which took away from the quick and easy meal I’d been aiming for. I ended up leaving them in, in honesty, and the G man and I picked them out and gnawed the meat off them as we found them. I also added full stems of thyme, which then meant I had the stems to pick back out once the leaves had fallen off and mixed in. This was a pain. If I were to do it again, I’d probably take the extra time and make a lamb stock with the bones first, and strip the thyme leaves off before adding them. Still, fairly minor inconveniences, both of them.
Ingredients for a pot of stew – serves three or four depending on greed:
- 1 tsp rapeseed oil
- 80g sliced leek
- 50g sliced carrot
- 225g mixed diced swede and carrot
- 450g lamb mince
- salt and pepper
- 2 tomatoes, pureed
- 350g peeled new potatoes
- 200g lamb bones
- 2 tbsp red wine
- 100g pearl barley
- 3 ‘handfuls’ of thyme (see picture)
- 700ml water
- 80g peas
- 190g broccoli florets
For the record, this is a ‘handful’ of thyme, in my book:
As you can see from the first photo, I bought all pre-prepared and packaged veg, even potatoes, which is super lazy. Still, the point was that it was an easy meal to make, even if I did add some fussy bits…
First, I heated the oil in a large pot, then cooked the leeks, carrot and swede-and-carrot for about five minutes over a medium high heat, till they started looking a bit rough and smelling all nice. I put the lamb mince in the pot, seasoned and browned. Then I reduced the heat to low and added all the rest of the ingredients apart from the peas and broccoli. I simmered all this for 40 minutes. The pureed tomatoes add a nice acidity to the stew, I’ve started putting tomatoes in all my stews. Some tinned tomatoes or passata would have done the trick too, though with the pureed tomatoes you know you’re getting all the goodness from them.
After the 40 minutes were up, the barley looked nice and fat and everything was thickened up. I tasted it for seasoning, added salt and pepper, then put in the broccoli and peas and cooked for a further 10 minutes to cook those through. I also used this last ten minutes to pick out all the thyme stems I could find.
Now, I would never say this is a great looking playdafood, but it was very delicious. I do love broccoli, but there’s something about it being in a stew that makes it look leggy and dreadful. Also that potato is so peely-wally, it looks a bit like an egg… I’d have been better off just putting in some baby new potatoes with the skin on, really, for extra flavour as well as colour. Still, for a low maintenance dinner this was a good result. Putting in the lamb bones meant that I didn’t have to add any stock for depth of flavour, and it was quite fun to nibble off the meat from the bones as we went along. I especially loved the barley, which I’d never cooked with before, apart from in a broth mix. It’s getting to be Broth Time too. Winter’s not all bad after all!