There’s a sweet and sour story behind this Sweet and Sour Lamb Stew.
Every year just before Easter I begin to think about lamb dishes. Maybe you do to. Most of my lamb fantasies involve big, whole legs of lamb. The kind with a frenched bone sticking out one end, looking like something Fred Flintstone would pack in his lunch pail over at Slate Rock and Gravel Company.
Like Fred, I idealize a good piece of meat and generally believe that bone-in cuts are superior. Give me a bone-in rib-eye over its boneless brethren any day. I wouldn’t think about braising a pork butt without the shoulder bone.
Unfortunately when it comes to bone-in leg of lamb, my Yabba Dabba Doo fantasies are just that – fantasies. Because a bone-in leg of lamb seems to resist my attempts at the rosy pink consistent results I dream about, and I don’t know why.
I’ve tried high heat and low heat. I’ve seared, I’ve barbecued and I’ve roasted. But mostly – I’ve failed. Yes, I’ve read all about internal cooking temperatures, and I can work an instant-read thermometer. Still, I’ve never been able to achieve a consistently cooked, tender and juicy, bone-in leg of lamb. It’s that inconsistency that scares me off the cut. The bone-in varieties can run $60 or more for a 5 to 6 pound leg. Which is a lot of money to risk for inconsistent results.
The good news is I’ve learned from my mistakes, or maybe I should say I’ve succumbed to them. These days I don’t even try to cook bone-in leg of lamb anymore, but I refuse to give up on roasted leg of lamb entirely. Especially since a boneless leg of lamb is so easy to roast.
Which means I have a choice. I can pay even bigger bucks to a butcher to de-bone or butterfly the meat for me, or I can learn to do it myself.
Naturally I chose the latter. Which isn’t to say that I have learned to do it quite yet. However I’m on the road, and it’s a bumpy road. That’s the sour part of my story today.
2012 Frank Family Napa Valley Zinfandel
Pairs well with barbecue, roasted red meat, stews, slightly spicy foods, cold cuts, pasta, sharp cheeses
Sweet and Sour Lamb Stew
This delicious Sweet and Sour Lamb Stew came to my table last week after I destroyed a perfectly good leg of lamb while practicing my de-boning skills. You see I’m determined to bring a stuffed and roasted boneless leg of lamb to our Easter celebration in Palm Springs this weekend. So several weeks ago I bought the smallest leg of lamb I could find. I sharpened my knife, I located the loin, the shank, and the joint that marries the two. I plunged in my knife and I got to work. I was feeling confident at the start, but somehow without noticing I disconnected the loin completely while the bone was still buried deep inside the shank. In other words, I failed.
I’m sure you can guess what I did next. I chopped that leg into bite-sized chunks and got to work on this Sweet and Sour Lamb Stew. I pretended to myself that Sweet and Sour Lamb Stew had been my intention all along.
I realize it sounds like I’m making excuses, but that’s not my intention. This is a leg-to-stew, lemons-to-lemonade story of perseverance, and it has a sweet ending. The Sweet and Sour Lamb Stew is really, really good. The tomato broth is refreshing, and appropriate to the season, with a gentle acidity balanced by the sweetness of the currants. The lamb is succulent and rich and suffused with flavor. It’s a perfect partner to the Frank Family Napa Valley Zinfandel we paired it with, and I have no regrets regarding this stew.
Though I do want you to know there’s another leg of lamb chilling in my refrigerator right now and I intend to try again. Easter is just three days away. I’ll let you know if we have stew again or not. GREG
I was supplied with wine samples in order to bring information about Frank Family Vineyards to this blog. All opinions are my own.
Sweet and Sour Lamb Stew