- Food & Drink
There is snow. Great drifts and flurries of it are falling across the country. Schools have been shut, motorists have been marooned and everyone is completely thrilled. My workmates are glued to weather websites, swapping statistics and speculating wildly, optimistically about how difficult it will be to get into the office on Monday.
Sadly for me, the amount of snow in Peckham is negligible. At dawn my garden looked like a giant salt shaker had been knocked over it. Now it just looks a little damp. What is certain is that it’s going to be damn cold over the next few days. A chill wind is going to blow and that requires a stew.
I love lamb. I also love beer, so combining them in a stew is the natural culmination of my appetites. The beer gives the stew a dark, bitter edge, softened by the honey and warmed by the ginger and coriander.
The vegetables break down to thicken it a little as it cooks and if it ends up too thick, thin it out with extra lamb stock. If it’s not thick enough, chuck in a handful of dried breadcrumbs and continue to simmer for 15–30 minutes – it’s nearly impossible to overcook stews. As long as the meat collapses on contact with your spoon and the vegetables are soft, it’s perfect.
Lamb and ale stew
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium leek, trimmed and sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
20g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
800g lamb shoulder fillet, chopped into bite size chunks
350g carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
350g swede, peeled and chopped into chunks
350g turnips, peeled and chopped into chunks
500ml bottle ale (I used London Pride)
350ml hot lamb stock (plus extra, if needed)
1 tbsp clear honey
A few fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
Fresh parsley, chopped, to serve
1 Pour the oil into a large, heavy-based pan and warm over a low heat. Add the leeks and onion and fry, stirring, for 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, ginger and coriander and fry, stirring constantly, for 2 more minutes.
2 Add the lamb and fry, stirring and scraping up any spices that are stuck to the bottom of the pan, for 10 minutes until the meat is browned. If it gets too sticky and you’re worried about it burning, add a little splash of water or lamb stock to keep it loose.
3 Add the vegetables, ale, stock, honey and herbs and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the lamb is tender. Remove the woody thyme sprigs and the bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper and thin/thicken it if you think it’s necessary. Serve with lots of crusty bread.