Inspired by Elizabeth David, a recipe for a satisfying lamb stew perfect for the end of summer.
I have always been fascinated by the great Elizabeth David. Together with Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher (one of the leading American food writers, who also happened to be a huge Francophile and live in Aix-en-Provence), she has been one of my greatest sources of inspiration. Her work is more than recipe collections — it is pure culinary literature. Every word is a delight to be savored, tempting you to get into the kitchen and create meals that feed both body and soul. Especially in a world of trendy Instagram food and famous food writers who no longer pen their own recipes but enlist the help of ghost writers, her work is not only truly enticing, but authentic. I have written about David here and here.
LAMB & AUBERGINE STEW
This weekend while looking through some of her books, I came across a recipe I had been meaning to try, her lamb and aubergine stew. And when I saw the beautifully ripe aubergines and tomatoes at my local organic market, I decided this was the dish I would be making for our Sunday dinner. A call to my butcher to see if he had lamb shoulder sealed the deal.
I must be honest, however, and confess that I didn’t follow the recipe to the letter. In fact, rarely do I follow any recipe as it is written. To me, recipes are best when you they are made your own and modified to your tastes. My additions were red wine, a bouquet garni for extra flavor and just a bit more cumin and garlic than Elizabeth recommends. Served with fluffy rice, this is a meal that, like all great meals, was and should be enjoyed with laughs, love and a bottle of good wine.
NOTE: Make sure the meat is at room temperature before cooking and dry it off well with paper towel.
Lamb & Aubergine Stew
- 2 small aubergines, quartered and cubed
- 1tbsp fine salt
- 1 large onion, sliced in rings
- 850g lamb shoulder, cut into 2.5cm cubes, dried well
- Fleur de sel and freshly cracked mixed peppercorns
- 1 ¼ tbsp cumin seeds, ground with pestle & mortar
- 1 bouquet garni
- 4 cloves pink garlic
- 250g sweet plum tomatoes, chopped
- 100ml red wine
- Fresh mint, to garnish
- Rice, to serve
Place the cubed aubergines in a colander, sprinkle with the salt, cover with paper towel and weigh down with a heavy pan. Allow them to drain for at least an hour, shaking them every now and then and pressing out the moisture. Heat the oil in a large casserole and gently sauté the onion. Once it has gotten some color, add the lamb and season with salt, pepper and the cumin. Add the bouquet garni and cook until the meat is evenly browned. Remove the meat and onions from the pan, add in the aubergines and cook covered for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Return the meat and onions to the pan and the garlic, tomatoes and red wine. Bring to the boil, immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 ½ hours. Serve with rice and garnish with mint.