Monday, November 27, 2006

Combinations 8: Lamb Stew

Sun 26 Nov 2006

We missed out on last month's Combinations (damn holidays!), but we've just managed to sneak in this month. The task at hand was to find a wine that would go with a lamb stew. Now, my original idea was a cab sav (maybe a cab sav/merlot blend) - something with a bit of fruit, a bit of body and not too tannic. Because my understanding of European wine is so slender, and because I want to learn, I always trundle off to the wine shop and ask their opinion. In this case, I think it backfired.

The first wine suggested was shiraz. I was surprised by this, especially when it was followed with the logic that it was because it wasn't too tannic. Try telling that to most (South) Australians! After a bit of too-ing and fro-ing I was persuaded to opt for a Roger Sabon Chapelle de Maillac Lirac (2005, we paid £11.99). Apparently Lirac is south Rhone and it was sold to me as a shiraz. Research subsequently suggests that this is not quite the case - the Roger Sabon site says the wine is 80% grenache - a grape that both the wine shop man and I agreed was not the way forward.

On to making the stew. We bought a nice big piece of lamb shoulder from the butcher and had intended to marinate it overnight but ran out of time in a very action packed Saturday. So, I studded the lamb with pieces of garlic, as well as applying a marinade made from garlic, rosemary, peppercorns and salt (thanks to Andy for providing the man power for the mortar and pestle). Due to time constraints it was only left to marinate for about half an hour while I prepped the vegetables. A couple of carrots and a huge parsnip were peeled and quartered, and a good handful of shallots were peeled.

Having heated some oil in the casserole dish, I rubbed the marinade off the lamb and quickly browned it. Then, lamb out of the pan, added the marinade and fried it off, before adding the vegetables and giving them a good coat in the marinade and allowing them to soften a little, before adding a spoonful of plain flour and giving that a bit of a cook too.

I returned the lamb to the pan and then covered it with lamb stock and tipped in some (sorry, that's as good as the measurement gets) puy lentils. The original recipe said to use a tin of green lentils. I don't like green lentils and I was a bit confused by the whole tin thing so I just ignored that bit of the recipe.

Anyway, this mix went into a 180C oven for a good couple of hours. I turned it over a couple of times, stirred it around a bit and added some more lentils. And then it was ready to eat! Decorated with a couple of bits of mint!

The recipe, bizarrely, said to add some redcurrant jelly. Well, we did this and I thought it was a complete waste of time. You really don't need the extra sweetness and the jelly proved to be quite tricky to stir in and get to melt.

The lamb was absolutely delicious - the parsnips and shallots had melted into the lentils to make an amazing thick, rich gravy. The lamb was moist and tender and the carrots had held together. It was really tasty!

The wine was poorly matched. In combination with the lentils it came across as incredibly dry and quite thin. When eaten with the lamb it was a bit better, but it was when the wine was drunk by itself that it really shone. It was such a shame, because it was a good wine to drink - just not with the rich gravy and meat.

Next time, I am really going to have to do more research and follow my gut instinct!

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Blogger Andrew said...

You sauce looks a lot thicker than mine but it was still delicious; the lamb although a cheap cut from Waitrose was every tasty.

I went for a Spanish red in the end (from the Juan Garcia grape) and a fine match it was too.

Thanks for taking part.

6:07 pm  

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