Springtime Lamb Stew
- 2 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder blade chops, bone-in, trimmed of excess fat (Prepare with bone in for flavor; you can easily remove bones after stew is finished cooking.)
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, quartered
- 2 large onions, quartered
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch segments
- 1 large celery root, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 heaping tablespoons pearl barley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 quart of vegetable stock, warmed
- Over medium heat, cook the bacon in a heavy bottomed 6 quart Dutch oven type pan until lightly browned on both sides and some of the fat has been rendered out to liquid. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to cool.
- Measure out two to three tablespoons of the liquid bacon grease, then pour off the remaining pooled fat into a ramekin to cool before disposing, or save for other cooking uses. Chop or crumble the bacon into small pieces and set aside.
- Turn the heat up a notch, add the tablespoons of bacon grease back to the pan, and brown the lamb on both sides, working in batches that only cover the bottom of the pan. Once they sizzle, let them brown undisturbed for several minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside before adding the next batch of lamb to brown.
- Once all the lamb is cooked, arrange the meat and vegetables in the pan in layers. Cover the bottom with the lamb, then add a layer of potatoes, onions, carrots and celery root. Add another layer of lamb and then another of vegetables. Once the layering is finished, add the barley, thyme, black pepper and a teaspoon of salt sprinkled across the top.
- Add the vegetable stock to the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Let simmer, covered, but with the lid slightly ajar, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bones. Use tongs to remove bones and let the stew sit for several minutes. Skim off excess fat, and serve.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley