Chef Dave Smart is the chef at Front and Central restaurant in Wolfville and author of the Cooking Smart column in the Kings County Advertiser and Register.
Lamb is synonymous with springtime. This is my take on a classic French bistro dish, braised lamb shoulder, served with new potatoes, peas and carrots. Slow cooking of the lamb shoulder results in exceptionally moist, flavourful lamb with a deep, rich, full-flavoured stew. And with a restaurant twist, cook the accompanying vegetables separately and bring them together when it is time to serve the stew. It takes a bit of extra time but, trust me, the results are well worth the wait and the extra effort.
Spring Lamb Stew
4 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into two-inch pieces (ask your butcher)
6 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups carrots, diced
4 cups onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken stock
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 can (14 ½ oz) diced tomatoes
chopped chives (or parsley)
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Pat lamb cubes dry and season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add in a single layer of lamb, not allowing the pieces to touch. When brown on all sides, remove lamb from pot. Discard oil.
Add fresh oil to the pot and add carrots and onions, sauté for five to seven minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add tomato paste and cook for another 30 seconds.
Return lamb, accumulated juices, and remaining ingredients (wine-tomatoes) to the pot, add water to cover by one inch. Cover with lid, place in oven, and cook for three hours. Remove from oven and cool for about one hour.
Strain reserving braising liquid. Remove and clean cooled pieces of lamb, discarding the other ingredients. Place strained braising liquid in a bowl and place in the fridge overnight to cool.
Remove accumulated fat and return the liquid to the pot to concentrate the flavors. Return lamb to the reduced braising liquid to warm through for serving. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Serve with baby potatoes, peas and carrots. Garnish with fresh chopped chives or parsley.
Chef Dave Smart owns Front and Central restaurant in Wolfville. And, if you have any culinary questions, please feel free to email him here at the paper at firstname.lastname@example.org.