If it’s grey outside, or if you are full of cold, or just a little bit miserable with the January blues, then you NEED this stew. The rich, unctuous sauce and the melting meat will warm the cockles of your heart. It is so easy to make (provided you can wait patiently for a couple of hours whilst it cooks) and tastes staggeringly good – proper old fashioned fare. I like to serve it with a great pile of mashed potato that has been seasoned with grated nutmeg, but it would work equally well with crusty bread, couscous, wholemeal pitta bread or rice. Or you could even put a puff pastry lid on it and call it a pie.
Lamb, Rosemary and Red Wine Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
small knob of butter
1 onion, cut into smallish dice
1 carrot, cut into smallish dice
2 sticks of celery, cut into smallish dice
a few cloves of garlic, crushed
the leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
2 tablespoons plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
approx 650g stewing lamb, cut into 2cm cubes
300ml red wine
300ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato purée
Decide whether you want to cook your stew in the oven (my preference) or on the hob – either way, it will need to be started on the hob. If you’re going for the oven option, preheat to 175ºC.
Put the olive oil and butter in a heavy-based casserole dish over a medium heat and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, put the flour in a shallow bowl and season it with salt and pepper, then coat the lamb cubes in the flour; alternatively – and particularly if you have an aversion to handling raw meat – put the whole lot in a plastic freezer bag and give it a good shake.
Add the meat to the pot and fry gently until it starts to brown.
Pour in the wine and stock and add the tomato purée, giving everything a good stir. Bring to the boil.
Put a well-fitting lid on the pot and either simmer slowly on the hob or put into the middle of the preheated oven for 2.5 hours, removing the lid for the final 30 minutes to reduce the sauce. Give it the occasional stir (as in about once an hour), adding more water if it starts to look too dry. When the stew is done, the meat should be soft and tender and the gravy thick and glistening. Taste before serving and adjust the seasoning as required.
Serves 4 if it is accompanied by plenty of carbs and veg, or 2 hungry people plus leftovers for lunch the following day. Can be reheated.