Mediterranean Lamb Stew with Jerusalem Artichokes

Mediterranean Lamb Stew with Jerusalem Artichokes

The picture doesn’t do this dish justice. I  wish I had the time to make homemade pasta, but, trust me, nobody complained. Bryan didn’t even put up a fuss about the olives, he just worked around them. I used a leg of lamb, trimmed it and cubed it. I was a little worried that it might not be as tender as a more marbled cut like shoulder, but my worries were unwarranted. I did cook it for several hours and the wine and tomato acidity helps to tender the meat. You could substitute potatoes or another root vegetable like parsnips or ruttabega, but I absolutely love the Jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchokes). They are neither artichokes, nor are they from Jerusalem. They have a texture similar to jicama or water chestnuts, but they have a subtle nutty flavor. They don’t have the starchiness of potatoes, so they maintain their firm texture and hold up well for stew. They are available at specialty grocers and a few chain grocery stores.You can also leave out the olives, or substitute with large caper berries. I used really large white mushrooms because they looked beautiful at the market; you could substitute your favorite mushroom.The stew would be great served over couscous, mashed potatoes, or, as I mentioned, homemade pasta. As with most stews, the flavors continue develop over time, so it’s almost better the next day. The hands on cooking time is less than an hour, but you’ll want to let the stew cook for 2-3 hours. (Serves 6-8).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4-5 lb. Boneless Leg of Lamb (or 4-5 lbs. shoulder meat)
  • 1 Medium Onion (White or Sweet) – sliced into thin rounds
  • 4 Cups of Jerusalem Artichokes
  • 3 Cups Large White Mushrooms
  • 1.5 Cups Red Wine
  • 28 oz. can of Chopped or Crushed Tomatoes (San Marzano preferable)
  • 1 Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives
  • 3 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 5 Cloves Garlic – chopped
  • 1-2 TBS. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 TBS. Dried Thyme Leaves (2 TBS. Fresh)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 TBS. Corn Starch
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh Parsley – Chopped for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

Trim lamb to remove most of the fat and any silver sinew. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Season generously with salt (preferably Kosher) and freshly ground pepper. Set aside and allow lamb to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In the meantime, peel the Jerusalem artichokes (this is challenging, but worth the effort) and cut into similar sized pieces (I like pieces about 3/4 of an inch). Clean and remove the stems from the mushrooms, cut into pieces if large.  Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or oven-proof stockpot. Add lamb cubes to the pot in a single layer (you will have to brown lamb in batches). Over medium high heat, brown lamb on all sides (don’t be afraid to let lamb become very brown).

Transfer browned lamb cubes to a bowl and set aside. Add onions and garlic to the pot and cook until tender. Add wine to pot and deglaze. Return lamb to pot, add tomatoes with juice, crushed red pepper flakes, thyme, and bay leaf. Cover and transfer to preheated oven.

After lamb has braised in the oven for 1 hour, add Jerusalem artichokes and olives; return to oven for 1 more hour. After another hour, add mushrooms and continue to cook for another hour; lamb, Jerusalem artichokes and mushrooms should be tender. If lamb is not fork tender, return to oven and continue to cook until lamb reaches desired tenderness. Remove stew from oven and, using a ladle, transfer 2-4 cups of cooking liquid to a bowl. Whisk corn starch into hot liquid and blend until there are no lumps. Return liquid to pot and stir until thickened. Serve over pasta, mashed potatoes, or couscous; garnish with chopped parsley.

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