Height of summer lamb stew

August 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

Around here, everyone is getting ready for school to start. Most elementary and high schools started this week or will start next week, and the colleges commence their fall semesters soon after. This suggests that summer is over, and it feels like it as families scramble for a few last weekends in the mountains and kids schedule final playdates at the pool. According to the calendar, though, we still have another good month. And in the vegetable farming world, we are hitting peak season. This is not the end but rather the middle of things, and now tomatoes and peppers and summer squash and beans are coming into full production. Pumpkins and winter squash are putting on some color. Second plantings of peas and lettuces are going in the ground. There is still plenty – plenty to be eaten, plenty of time.

I’ve been craving meat these days, and my grocery bill shows it. Even on hot summer days, you sometimes want something hearty. I have been getting so much Swiss chard from the farm, so I decided some lamb stew meat and chard and onions and crooked neck squash might simmer well together.

Garlic and butter make so many things taste richer. I dug the garlic, and also snipped rosemary and basil from the farm last week. Came home smelling like a soup sachet.

I frequently worry about broth tasting dull, and wondered as I threw things together if I ought to have used vegetable stock. It turns out that I needn’t have worried. I immensely enjoy a good broth and it turns out I can make one, too!

The stew was exactly what I had been craving. This morning I woke up next to an open window, and I felt – gasp – cold! Nights have been hot in the apartment but now and then a good rain cools things down and there is the slightest briskness of fall in the air. A summer stew becomes just the thing.

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RECIPE (loosely, as I really did toss things together as I pleased):

Ingredients:

Lamb stew meat (approx a pound)

1-2 Tbs. olive oil

1 stick butter

1-2 yellow or crooked neck squash

1 large or two small red onions

15 leaves Swiss chard

several cloves of garlic

2-3 bay leaves

1-2 sticks rosemary

7-10 leaves of fresh basil

1-2 tsp. of cumin, to taste

1/2 lemon

salt & pepper to taste

water

Directions:

Brown the lamb in olive oil with several cloves of garlic, in a skillet on medium heat. Meanwhile, place butter, onions (sliced into rings), and minced or crushed garlic in a large pot and bring to simmer; heat until onions become clear. Add meat to butter and onions, add about six cups of water, and add rosemary, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and cumin. Add more garlic if you wish – minced, crushed or whole cloves. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. Slice the Swiss chard into 1-inch strips. Add the chard, squash, and basil, and squeeze in the juice from the half lemon. Let simmer until the chard and squash have softened and the meat is tender. I’d recommend tasting the broth periodically and adjusting seasonings as you wish – I found I liked quite a bit of salt and pepper in mine. This would also be good with potatoes added.

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