We’ve had a couple of weeks of rain in San Francisco, and this dreary weather makes me crave a hearty bowl of stew. After scouring the internet for recipes of a healthy lamb stew, I found this slow-cooker recipe on EatingWell.com. After getting approval from my health-conscious roommate (and the best baker I have ever known), KD, we set a family dinner date for this past Sunday.
Slow Cooked Turkish Lamb Stew (serves 6-8)
- 1 1/2 to 2 lbs of lean, boneless leg of lamb
- 1 1/2 TB olive oil
- 2 large white onions, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 3 small Yukon Gold potatoes, pealed
- 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 large zucchini
- 6 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 TB chopped flat-leaf parsley
Trim the leg of lamb, cutting off the white parts (it’s fat). Then slice with the grain into smaller strips, then against the grain into 1-inch thick chunks. Add about 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper.
Next, slice your vegetables. For the potatoes, eggplant and zucchini, cut each into circular slices that are a little less than 1/2 an inch thick. It will seem like big pieces, but they break down while being cooked in the stew. After trimming the green beans, cut some of the longer ones in half. Set aside.
Heat 1/2 TB olive oil in a large pan over a medium-high flame. Once hot, add half of the lamb and sear on all sides until well-browned (2-4 minutes). Transfer the lamb to the crock pot and heat another 1/2 TB olive oil in the pan, searing the rest of the meat. Add to the crock pot and spread evenly on the bottom of the pot.
In the same pan, heat another 1/2 TB olive oil. Lower the heat to medium, add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic, cumin and oregano and sauté for another minute. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, mashing with a potato masher or fork, until simmering. Remove from heat and spoon half of the mixture over the lamb in the crock pot.
Layer on the potatoes over the tomato sauce in the crock pot; then the green beans, eggplant and zucchini, adding a dash of salt and pepper to each layer of vegetables. Top the zucchini layer with the remaining tomato-onion mixture and finish off with the six bay leaves. Set crock pot to high and slow cook for four hours.
Remove bay leaves before serving, and serve in large bowls with a small dish of chopped parsley for garnish.
This whole meal was very easy to make, though it did require a little more prep-work than the usual crock pot meal. But once it’s in the pot, you just sit back for four hours and enjoy the delicious smells coming from the kitchen.
We also prepared a side salad of romaine, chickpeas, avocado, scallions, freshly grated Pecorino Romano, cracked pepper and Balsamic vinaigrette (with chopped Campari tomatoes on the side, since KD hates raw tomatoes).
Naturally, I paired the Turkish lamb stew with a Zinfandel. Not just any Zin, but my favorite Napa Zinfandel from Saddleback Cellars – the 2008 Old Vines. If you remember correctly, dear reader, I enjoyed the 2007 Saddleback Cellars Zinfandel with my mother at one of my most memorable San Francisco dining experiences – and that’s when I fell in love with Saddleback wines. I have since been to the winery twice and purchased several other of their wines (Syrah, Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Blanc) and they are all fantastic and reasonably priced. Their Zinfandel, which they call “monster zin” is smooth with a good balance of spice and heartiness, and the perfect pairing for the flavors in the lamb stew. It’s also very good as it’s own meal in a glass.