Hearty Lamb Cobbler

Hearty Lamb CobblerHaving picked up some lamb from Tamarack Tunis on New Year’s Day, I was charged with making a “lamb dish” by the week-end. Waking to snow on Saturday morning, I knew I wanted to make something warm and filling. Something to remind me of those chilly days on our recent trip to England, Wales and Ireland. This recipe was perfect, and the smoked bacon from our neighbours at Back Beyond Farm really helped this dish.

INGREDIENTS

    1 tbsp olive oil
    1/4 lb bacon, thick slice preferable
    1 lb lamb, cubed
    2 medium-sized yellow onions
    5 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
    3/4 lb crimini mushrooms, washed and trimmed
    1 1/2 cup peas thawed to room temperature
    4 tbsp all purpose flour
    2-3 bay leaves
    2-3 pinches ground sage
    1 tsp oregano
    1 tsp basil
    1/4 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon, or other red wine
    250 ml beef stock
    1 splash Worcestershire sauce
    1 egg to wash the tops of the cobbler biscuit topping

The Cobbler Top
I used Bisquick and followed their directions for biscuits/dumplings, which calls for 2 1/4 cups Bisquick mix and 2/3 cup milk. Mix together and then kneed 10 times before rolling out on a flour-dusted surface to about 2/3″ thick. I then used a metal measuring cup (I didn’t see any cookie cutters, so I improvised) to cut circular biscuits. Gather the scraps, and roll out to cut more biscuits if necessary. I do this procedure about 20-30 minutes before the dish comes out of the oven (see below).

PREPARATION
Heat oven to 350ºF (~180ºC). In a oven-safe dish heat the oil over medium heat, and sizzle the bacon for 5 minutes until it crisps. Leave the bacon in the dish, and turn up the heat before adding the lamb. Cook the lamb for about 10 minutes until brown. Remove the meats carefully with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Turn the heat up to maximum and add the carrots, onions and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add the flour. Return the meats to the dish and add the herbs. Pour the wine, the beef stock and the Worcestershire sauce into the dish. Lightly season with fresh ground pepper, then cover the dish and place it in the pre-heated oven. Allow to cook undisturbed for about 1.5 hours.

After an hour of the cook time has passed make the biscuit dough as described above. When the dish is done cooking for the 1.5 hours, remove from the oven, add the peas and stir them into the dish. Then lightly place the biscuits discs onto the top of the meat and vegetable mixture. Wash the top of the biscuits with the beaten egg. Return the dish to the oven and allow to cook for an additional 35-45 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.

Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes, which will allow the gravy to thicken. Serve with the remaining Cabernet Sauvignon!

Lamb Stew

Ingredients:
2 lbs lamb* shoulder, cut into 1″ cubes
4-5 large potatoes, blemishes removed but not all the skin, cut into 1″ cubes
2 large onions, cut into bite-sized chunks
24 ounces organic beef broth
12 oz. dark beer (Guinness, as always, is preferable)
8 ounces water (approximately)
1 Tbsp. brown mustard
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2-3 Tsp. kosher or sea salt
1 Tsp. dried oregano
1 Tsp. dried sage
1 Tsp. dried coriander
1 Tsp. dried cumin
1-2 bay leaves

Instructions:
This recipe is designed to work in a crockpot, but can easily be modified by browning the lamb meat and onions if one wanted to use a stew pot.

Combine the cubed lamb meat, onions, potatoes and carrots into the crockpot. Add dry herbs and seasonings and then the beef broth. Add water until all of the ingredients are covered. Stir. Add the mustard and red wine vinegar.

As I said, this stew is designed to be cooked in a crockpot, so be sure to start it the night before on low or first thing in the morning on high. If peas are your thing, add a packet of cooked or thawed peas about an hour before you anticipate the meal to be complete. Stew is done when the potatoes are cooked through.

* We use the delicious lamb raised by Marian White of Land & Lamb.

Black Bean Soup

Normally I am not a box-of-this, can-of-that type of cook, but sometimes you hit upon a shortcut that is truly tasty and healthy. I hope you enjoy this as much and Rick and I have. Serves 4-6.

Ingredients
1 box Fantastic Foods “Instant Black Bean” mix
[This is essentially refried beans that have been dehydrated. It comes with some spices already mixed in, so you can use it for dip, as a veggie filling for tostadas, etc. I found it in my local health-food oriented grocery store but some major chains are starting to carry the Fantastic Foods line now.]

1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
4-5 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced (white parts and about 5 inches of green parts)
1 14oz. can diced tomatos (fire-roasted preferred)
1 Tbsp. chile powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
4-6 cups hot water

Optional Toppings
sour cream
salsa (smoked jalapeno is a nice match)
chopped cilantro
sliced scallions
your favorite hot sauce

Preparation
In a soup pot, saute the onions, garlic and carrot in the oil until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, scallions, chile powder and ground cumin, and cook for another minute. Next, pour in 4 cups of hot water, toss in the bay leaves, and sprinkle in the box of bean mix. Stir thoroughly so that the beans get completely rehydrated in the water (no clumps).

It will take about 8 minutes for the beans to soak up the water and start to thicken the soup. If it starts getting too thick, add a little more water. Taste the soup and add some salt if you wish. Continue cooking for at least 15 minutes over low heat, to give the flavors a chance to combine. Wait until just before serving before you add the cilantro; you don’t want to overcook the fresh herbs. Serve with any of the optional toppings and fresh cornbread.

Mushroom Paprikash with Dumplings

Unlike most paprikashes or goulashes this dish has no meat in it. The dish can be made with the faux meat, or not, with similiar results. Best served with a dark amber, porter or stout brew. Serves 4.

Stew:
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
7 cups quartered mushrooms (fresh crimini mushrooms suggested)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 oz (half a loaf) Gimme Lean Ground Beef style. (optional)

Dumplings:
3 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt

Preparation:
1) In a small bowl mix the sour cream, 2 teaspoons flour, the pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

2) In a 4-qt saucepan heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened (about 2 minutes). Add the faux meat, crushing it to make small crumbles. Add the paprika and stir until absorbed.

3) Add the mushrooms and stir until coated with the paprika mixture. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.

4) While the mushrooms are cooking, prepare the dumplings. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and then add both flours, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir until completely combined. Drop the dumplings by rounded teaspoonful into a large pot of boiling water. Let dumplings boil over high heat until they rise to the top of the water. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon. (Makes 18-24 dumplings.)

5) Add the dumplings to the cooked mushroom mixture. Stir in the sour cream mixture. Cook until heated through and serve.

Variation:
Substitute unflavored yogurt for the sour cream.