Saturday, February 11, 2017


Like the “white sales” of January, the grocery store ofertas offer some post-holiday bargains. Some of the best are found at the butcher’s counter, where duck liver and magret, baby kid, turkeys and partridge, pork loins are displayed at discount prices.

I take advantage to buy a whole lamb’s quarter—leg and loin—at a special price. The butcher takes the time to cut it up for me, separating the shank from the leg and boning out the loin.

The shank goes in the freezer until I’ve got enough of them to braise. The boneless loin, the most tender part, I’ll freeze as well, perhaps to use for kebabs. The leg, a Sunday roast to serve six. The heap of bones will make a rich lamb broth for cooking mushroom-barley soup.

For a frugal February--cannellini beans fill out a robust lamb stew.
I’m left with some scrappy, fatty pieces cut from the loin section. They’re not really enough meat for a whole meal, but, trimmed, cut up and cooked with beans, they make a hearty winter stew, perfect for a frugal February.

I used about 1 ½ pounds of boneless lamb. Boned-out flank or breast could be used as well. (I consider the shoulder too good for stew.) The stew can also be made with bony, bargain cuts of lamb such as shanks, necks, riblets. Allow about 3 pounds for bone-in pieces.   

Tender bites of lamb plus beans make a hearty meal.

I used a jar of cooked cannellini beans. If you’re starting with uncooked beans, put them (8 ounces or about 1 ¼ cups) to soak in water to cover overnight. Drain the beans and put them in a pot with 4 cups water. Bring to a rolling boil. Drain the beans, rinse them in cold water, and return them to the pot. Add 4 cups water, 2 bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 90 minutes.

Lamb and Bean Stew
Estofado de Cordero con Alubias

The flap of meat covering the loin is layered with fat. Trim off as much as possible before cutting the meat into bite-size pieces.
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ pounds boneless trimmed lamb, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 ½ cups chopped onion
3 cloves chopped garlic
½ cup drained, canned diced tomatoes
Sliced carrots
1 teaspoon peppercorns, coarsely crushed
Pinch of ground cloves
½ teaspoon smoked pimentón (paprika)
1 bay leaf
Sprig of fresh dried thyme
Sprig of fresh rosemary 
2 cups water
3 cups cooked cannellini beans
Chopped fresh cilantro, parsley, or mint to serve

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Brown the pieces of lamb on all sides and remove them.. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and sauté until onion begins to brown, 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and carrots and sauté 2 minutes. Add pepper, cloves, pimentón, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, ½ teaspoon salt, and 2 cups water and stir. 

Return the lamb to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lamb is tender, about 60 minutes. Add the beans to the pan and cook 15 minutes more.

Serve lamb and beans in bowls, garnished with chopped cilantro, parsley, or mint. 

Lamb bones produce a rich broth. Vegetable-barley soup coming next.

A recipe for lamb shanks.

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