A dish which like to be made a day before eating.
Oh, why hello there! I know it’s been a little while since I’ve updated, but last weekend I was dealing with a post-surgery puppy. I hope you’ll understand.
A few quick links before we get into it:
Chef Martin Vine of San Antonio tweeted this awesome link to me. If you hit the next button at the top right, you’ll get a look at an great series of photos taken at a class given by Fergus Henderson. Thanks to Chef Ben Ford for the images!
Over at the Belm Blog, David had his way with a hog’s head and really did it justice.
I’m a fan of offal on Facebook (crazy, I know) and recently a link to a news story titled “Portland pig cook-off followed by brawl over the provenance of pork” was posted. The event was the famed Cochon 555, and the fight took place over the lack of locally sourced pork. I can appreciate the passion, but not the altercation.
Okay, on to the post!
Many recipes should start off like this: with five and a half pounds of red meat on the bone. That right there is lamb shoulder, cut into cubes. I don’t know if you’ve bought that much lamb recently, but man, it’s not cheap. So if you plan on making this dish, gird your pocketbook. Also, Mr. Henderson asks for you to use a pan to hold it all. I think he must have meant for one to use a pot because my largest pan could barely contain the lamb meat, and with even more ingredients need to join the party, I can’t imagine how big of a pan you would actually need.
Joining the meat are a few bay leaves, an herb bundle, a scant amount of peppercorns and a pinch of salt. Water was added until everything was covered. I kicked the heat up and brought the pot to boil, and then I moved over to start working on the vegetables Mr. Henderson asks for
One of the reasons I was excited to make this recipe was that I’d get a chance to finally work with and eat kohlrabi. Curious about their background, I did a little research and learned that they are cultivars of the cabbage, and so their flavor is very similar to, well, cabbage.
The kohlrabi, some leeks, a few carrots, and a bunch of shallots were all cleaned, peeled, and cut into appropriate sizes for the stew.
The pot was brought down to a gentle simmer, and then I skimmed, and skimmed, and skimmed. And then I skimmed a little more. Let it be known that five and a half pounds of boiled lamb meat gives off a lot of scum. All of the prepped veggies were added to the pot, along with one more thing:
The barley! Mr. Henderson warns us that using too much barley in this recipe would be a bad idea, as it has a “bad habit of taking over.” I added a big handful to the pot, and then left it mostly alone for an hour.
When the kitchen timer started going off, I knew that the stew was ready to be taken off the heat. I decanted the still hot stew into a big plastic container, and let it cool down to room temperature before putting it into the fridge. There’s no good sense in heating your fridge up, right?
Then next day, I was greeted with this. All of the fat had collected at the top of the container and solidified. The recipe instructed me to remove all of this tasty white gold…
… so I did. I saved the lamb fat and stuck it back in the freezer. Maybe I can strain it for use somewhere else down the line.
The stew was then returned to the stove to reheat. When it was properly simmering again, I added salt and pepper and removed the herb bundle. The dish was complete.
At the very end of the recipe, Mr. Henderson mentions that some people might, “be tempted to add more oomph to this dish,” but that he’s, “all for its soothing, gentle qualities.” And I totally agree with him. You might assume that the richness of the lamb chunks might over power the rest of the ingredients, but that’s just not the case. There is a wonderful harmony that is struck somehow amongst the chaos that is a stew. The kohlrabi were like hearty bites of thick boiled cabbage, the barley added grassy notes, and the broth was delicate and light. It’s a subtle, comforting stew that would easily bring warm smiles on a cold winter night.
One down, fifty five to go.