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AKA Daedala-needs-to-clean-out-her-fridge stew.

This is an amalgam of several Cook's Illustrated recipes. Some of the measures are pretty approximate. It turned out really well when I made it like this; more recently, I tried with beef and chicken stock, and added parsnips and rutabaga. That version wasn't as successful (though it's edible, and got better after a night in the fridge). The biggest problem was the parsnips, I think -- they added a strong, sweetish flavor that overpowered everything else. I also browned too much beef at once, so it didn't really brown properly. I don't think the rutabaga was a problem, though. I'll be sticking with this as my ur-stew recipe unless I have a few more failures -- the version described below is amazing.

Lamb stew meat (2 lbs)
4 T olive oil (or other preferred oil)
1/2 c red wine vinegar (I think? I just poured it in)
3 onions, chopped
1/4 c flour (optional)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 T tomato paste
1 t thyme
1 t sea salt
4 c lamb stock (I had it; other stock or water would probably work fine)
lamb bones you were saving for stock (optional)
8 oz turnip, chopped
8 oz carrot, chopped
if you didn't use flour, some kind of thickener
1/4 c chopped parsley

1. Sea salt and pepper lamb stew meat. Brown in a single layer in a dutch oven with 2 T olive oil (probably 2-3batches), then remove to plate. If you brown it all at once, too much moisture comes out and the meat steams instead of browning, oops. If you do that, reserve the liquid with the meat.

2. Deglaze with the red wine vinegar and stir up the browned bits. Add 3 chopped onions and sautee in 2 T olive oil until soft, ~ 10 min. Add more olive oil as needed. If using flour as a thickener, add 1/4 c here and stir to coat.

3. Add chopped garlic, sliced mushrooms, tomato paste, thyme, and salt. Stir and sautee until mushrooms are wilted. The mushrooms and tomato paste are supposed to add the umami flavor, for richness and depth.

4. Add 4 c lamb stock and the browned lamb. Bring to a boil, then cover and put in a 300F oven to bake.

5. After an hour, add chopped turnip and carrot (don't stir them in). Bake another hour. Check; if it's still too liquid, uncover and bake another half hour.

6. Stir in vegetables, then let stand 5 min. Spoon off any fat that surfaces.

8. If you weren't using flour, sprinkle in the thickener you prefer, stir, and let stand for a little bit. Add 1/4 c chopped parsley and stir.


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