Oh my god. Where the hell have you been?! You are in SO much trouble. I hope you have an amazing excuse.
I’ve been studying for a terrible set of exams. I paid $1,000 and studied for weeks and weeks. It soon became evident during the test-taking that the test itself was written by a group of illiterate, and possibly drunk, garden gnomes. I’m embarrassed for my profession. (Hey, CLARB.) And I hope to something holy that I passed. Because I never ever want it to happen again.
In the spirit of renewal, and this soggy, nutty spring we’ve been having, I bring you the spring lamb stew. Adapted from this super classic and cozy Irish Stew recipe circa 1963, I’ve updated this shizznit with brighter flavors and that super trendy grain, FARRO. Farro is sundried tomatoes, kombucha, quinoa, and chia seeds all rolled into one – trendy, healthy, versatile, and damn it, extremely tasty. It goes in this stew.
1/2 lb thick cut bacon, cut into little matchstick pieces (I love this double smoked bacon from Schaller and Weber. It can totes have my babies.)
2 lbs of lamb stew meat, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
1/2 cup flour
handful of fresh thyme leaves
2 onions, diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
4 carrots, diced
2 turnips, peeled and diced
1 cup pearled farro
1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped with stems removed
Salt and pepper, as needed
Put all your little bacon friends in an good sized Dutch oven pot.
Turn the heat to medium low and let the bacon sweat, stirring occasionally until they are lightly browned and crispy. When the bacon is done, scoop it out and place it to the side for later.
While this is happening, season your lamb pieces well with salt and pepper, patting lightly to help the seasoning stick. Lightly dredge the meat in the flour. (Lightly!)
Brown the floured lamb pieces in the bacon fat on all sides, taking care to leave some space between the pieces and to be patient. Browning = flavor. This will take at least 3 or 4 batches to finish.
Once all the lamb pieces are browned, remove them from the pot and place them to the side as well. Add the onions and thyme to pot, and cook on medium/high heat until they have softened and turned a nice caramel brown.
Throw the lamb and bacon bits back in the pot along with the parsnip, and pour in enough water to just cover the lamb meat. (Remember how much I love not having to use stock?? I really, really do.) Bring the pot to a boil and cover, turning the heat down and letting the lamb cook at the smallest of simmers for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours until just tender.
While this is happening, throw your farro into a pot with water (check the package for the amount of water, I find that it varies slightly from batch to batch.) I added a vegetable bouillon cube to mine to amp up the flavor. Cook until al dente, about 20 minutes and then drain any remaining liquid and set aside.
(Have you guys tried these Rapunzel cubes?? They are sort of amazing and taste like…vegetables. And not like dirt water, mushrooms or mud. Amazing.)
Add the carrots, turnips and parboiled farro to the pot with the meat and cook until the farro is tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the chopped parsley to the pot and let the stew cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
And voila! Your stew awaits.
SOME NOTES: This lamb stew is the perfect weapon to combat the last of the winter to spring chills, and to help your bide time while our local farmers markets ramp up for the new growing season. Almost any root vegetables you have lying around will do to augment or substitute for the turnips, carrots and parsnip, just know that a pop of color is nice. The bacon is great but not necessary, just add whatever cooking oil you prefer to substitute for the fat.