Thursday, February 18, 2010

lamb lessons and recipe

My husband loves lamb stew. I used to love it, then the last few times we had it, for some reason it put me off. Since I'm the family cook, aka gate-keeper, we haven't had it for at least 3 years. We were menu planning on Saturday and decided to give it a try again. That little lamb stew had many teachable moments and it was delicious. 4 year old M was suspicious and didn't eat very much. She dipped some bread in the sauce and had a few pieces of lamb, but this was not a hit for her the first time around. Since this was a new main meal, I prepared peas and had cut up vegetables with a salad and bread so I knew she would get enough to eat even if she didn't like the main item.

1) Ask the meat counter guy what kind of meat to buy if you don't know. I told him I was going to make stew and asked for him to cut some off the lamb leg, he said shoulder would be better. It was and it was cheaper
2) If you see a big roast, or leg of lamb that is tied with string, they will often cut some off for you. You don't have to buy the whole thing. Especially for expensive meat like lamb, some slices off a boneless leg or shoulder roast are much cheaper than chops. They will fall apart, but they grill up and make good stew meat.
3) If you had a bad experience with food in the past, it may take some time, OK maybe alot of time to pass before it sounds appetizing again. (Like the time you threw up salsa Freshman year of college and didn't eat salsa for almost two years?)
4) If you are a picky adult, and haven't tried a food for many years, give it a try. Make the food, smell it, maybe take one bite or not. Give yourself permission to approach foods slowly. Have a napkin nearby so you can spit it out if you need to.
4) Kids who have bad experiences with food (gagging, pressure, trust issues after sneaky chef discoveries etc.) may also take a long time to get back to a food. The less you pressure them, the better that process will go.
5) If you're making an entree, consider paring it with pre-prepped sides if you're short on time or imagination. Alexia frozen breads, potatoes, sweet potato fries, frozen veggies, refrigerated mashed potatoes.

prep time 25 minutes, cook time 45 or so...

1 -2 pounds of lamb meat for stew (can use other meat...) can ask butcher to chop for you too
2 celery stalks chopped
2 carrots chopped
2 cans of drained cannelini (white) beans, or prepared (soaked) dry beans
1 can 14 ounce of diced tomatoes, do not drain
1/4 tspn dried rosemary
1 tspn dried mustard powder
1-2 teaspoons crushed garlic (1-2 cloves)
1 cup or so chicken broth as needed for moisture (more if you want it soupy, less for thick)
1 -2 bay leaves optional
salt and pepper to taste

Clean and chop one large leek, carrots and celery. Sautee in your soup pot over medium heat with about 1/2 -1 Tbspn of butter for about 8 minutes, or until soft. Add lamb meat and cook about 8-10 minutes. Don't let scorch. Add broth to prevent scorching. Add all the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes or so. Serve with fresh bread. (Alexia frozen baguettes are nice, or home-made...) Serve. Salt and pepper to taste.

Yes, you probably should dredge the meat in flour and brown it in batches and then add the aromatics, but this takes more time and for a quickish dinner doesn't make enough of a taste difference to me to mess around in the kitchen an extra 30 minutes...

What convenience foods do you like? I'm always looking for a decent tasting one...

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