Navarin D'Agneau Printanier | Lamb Navarin with Spring Vegetables
It's officially Spring! Though you wouldn't know it from the freezing temps we're having this week.
Spring is an excuse to cook one of my favorite meat; lamb. So here comes one of my favorite gastronomic delights - a very special French classic, Lamb Navarin D'Agneau Printanier which is Lamb Navarin with Spring Vegetables.
I first worked on this dish years ago when Chef Robin asked me to do do a guest post on her website . She wears many hats as a Restaurateur, Consultant, Wine Pairing expert & Teacher of the Culinary Arts. I first became acquainted with her when I read her marvelous article on Finishing Salts. I have never delved into these and if it were not for her & Chef Thomas Keller at the French Laundry, I would never have discovered their culinary magic.
I have often said that I lack the gene that allows me to follow a recipe to the 'T'. In fact I wouldn't begin to know how to do that. I think it has something to do with the fact that especially when it comes to French cooking, I approach it with the same mindset I approached my thesis as a graduate student. I research, deconstruct the recipe, look for similarities and differences, and then reconstruct the recipe in my own light.
Two culinary giants & a humble me are in the kitchen for this rendition of Navarin D'Agneau Printanier. My favorite person when it comes to French cooking, Richard Grausman's recipe from his book At Home with the French Classics, Le Cordon Bleu's recipe for this & moi, calling out to the culinary Gods to smile on me as we journey into the world of Navarin D'Agneau Printanier.
Lamb Navarin is a stew with lamb, turnips, carrots & potatoes. What takes it from Lamb Navarin to Lamb Navarin Printanier is the addition of spring vegetables namely pre-cooked French beans (very thin green beans) and shelled green peas.
Please do not omit the turnips because it would no longer be Navarin.
In fact take it from someone who has suffered from turnip nightmares growing up. If only my mother had cooked it this way, I'd have eaten the entire field of turnips without any fuss!
Navarin D'Agneau Printanier | Lamb Navarin with Spring Vegetables Serves 4-6
2.5 lbs. boneless leg of lamb (I used Australian) 1 large onion (to get about 1-1/4 cups chopped)
1 leek 3 garlic cloves 18 pearl onions
16 baby red (waxy) potatoes
3 large carrots
3 medium turnips (use only in winter)
1/4 lbs. fresh green French green beans, haricots verts
1/2 cup frozen shelled green peas
4 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. salted butter 1 carton (1 liter) beef stock
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4-5 fresh thyme sprig
6-7 sprigs parsley (enough to get 1 tbsp. chopped leaves)
Bouquet Garni 2 fresh thyme sprig or 1/2 tsp dried thyme 5 parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
Carrots - Peel & cut into 1-1/2" thick lengths. Discard the top.
Onion - Peel, discard the skin. Halve, & then place in a mini-chopper and finely chop. Cook's Note - Interestingly, Grausman does not use onions in his recipe but Cordon Bleu does & I do like an onion. Leeks - Discard root tip. Halve and slice into 1/4" thick semi-circles. Use only the white & light green parts. Discard the thick dark green portion & leaves.
Turnips (for winter) - Peel, discard top & bottom knobs & cut into quarters.
Garlic - Peel & chop cloves. Set aside. Parsley - Discard the stalks. Finely chop the leaves and set aside.
Baby red potatoes - Wash, cut away any 'eyes' or brown spots & peel. Set aside.
Pearl onions- I simply don't have the patience to peel miniature onions so I found a shortcut that works really well. Bring 2 cups of water to an angry boil. Drop in the pearl onions and boil for 20 minutes. Sieve and discard the water. Under gently running cold tap water, using a knife to cut off the root tip and pop out of the onions from its skins.
Measure & set aside - the all-purpose flour, tomato paste, beef stock & dry white wine.
Lamb- Cutaway the thick skin if attached from the meat. Cut the lamb into 1-1/2" cubes. Place on a kitchen paper towel.
Cover with another piece of paper towel and press so all the moisture is absorbed. The meat will not brown if it is damp since maillard reactions require a dry surface to occur.
For Bouquet Garni - Take 2 stalks of celery approx. 4-5 inches long but of equal lengths. Place fresh or dried thyme in one of the celery hollows (what else would u call it?) Place the bay leaves covering the thyme followed by sprigs of fresh parsley.
Interlock the two celery sticks together squishing together all the herbs and tie the 2 halves together with kitchen twine.
Use a heavy bottom pan, Dutch oven or a copper sauté pan. On high heat, bring vegetable oil to fuming. In a single layer, add the lamb chunks to the pan.
Brown on each side, then flip over and brown on the other side. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch & may need to be cooked in 2 batches. Do not overcrowd the pan.
Once golden brown, remove the meat & set aside while you cook the second batch of meat.
To the sauté pan add the garlic, sliced leeks & chopped onions. Sauté for about 2 minutes on medium heat till slightly softened.
Add the browned lamb and sauté for another minute. Add the all-purpose flour and saute for on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes until the flour is all spongy & begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add the beef stock, white wine, bouquet garni, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste & fresh thyme sprigs. On medium-high heat bring the stock to simmer. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and allow to cook undisturbed on low heat for 1 hour.
Meanwhile prepare the remaining vegetables;
In a sauté pan, heat 2 tbsp. salted butter & add the carrots. Sauté on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently so the carrots brown on all sides. Remove the carrots with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.
In the same pan sauté the pearl onions & turnips (if using) for another 3-5 minutes or so or until they are browned on all sides. Shake the pan frequently so the onions & turnips begin to glaze & are brown on all sides. Remove them to the same plate with the carrots along with all the butter in the pan.
Measure and set aside the green peas & the green beans until ready to use.
After the stew has been cooking an hour, give the stew a good stir & add potatoes & the carrots. Stir & replace the tight-fitting lid.
After 30 minutes, give the stew a good stir & add the turnips & the pearl onions. Stir & replace the tight-fitting lid.
Meanwhile bring a pot of water, about 3 cups to an angry boil with 2 tsp salt.
Add the green French beans and cook for about 4-5 minutes until just tender. Drain in a sieve, discarding excess water. Add the beans & peas to the stew. Stir. Replace the tight-fitting lid & cook for 5 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Cut and taste a piece of lamb to ensure it is fall-apart-tender.
Cook's Note: The total cooking time is about 2 hours. Discard the thyme sprigs & the bouquet garni. If you are preparing to serve this the next day do not add the green beans & peas until the stew has been reheated thoroughly just before serving time the next day.
Taste & adjust seasonings before serving. Serve hot.
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