Winter lamb is really mutton, hence tough and needing either very, very brief or very long cooking. Besides, it is expensive. But this lean, grass-fed meat is very good for you. So the other day I loosened up a whole bunch of dollars and bought a couple of lamb sirloins. Now, how to cook lamb best for flavor and to make it go far enough?
Research in several cookbooks yielded surprisingly few things you could do with a lamb sirloin besides grill it. Mindful of the herbs surviving in pots on my patio, I contrived this stew. Vegetables, herbs, and a luscious pink wine infused sauce made a little lamb meat go farther, infused the kitchen with an enticing aroma and tasted delicious. Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you. If you don’t have all these herbs on hand, a pinch of dried thyme or dill will yield good, but less complex, flavor.
2 large or 4 small servings
4 slices lamb sirloin
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
2 slices pepper bacon
2 carrots, diced or sliced
2 teaspoon dillweed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 small bay leaf, optional
2 (4-inch) sprigs rosemary, optional
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 inches orange peel, zest only
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
2/3 cup white Zinfandel or other pink wine
2 cups cooked navy beans
water to cover generously
2 potatoes, thinly peeled and diced
Cut the lamb into bite-size pieces. Cut the bacon into ½-inch x 1-inch strips. Fry the bacon in your largest skillet or wok. Remove the crisps with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the onion and carrot. Stir cook until the onion is limp and golden and the carrots lightly toasted. Stir and push aside or temporarily remove to a dish. Add the lamb pieces to the skillet. Sprinkle with herbs salt and pepper. Add the white wine, the reserved bacon bits and water. Cover. Cook on medium heat until the lamb is tender, about 1 hour. Add the potato dice and the onion and carrots. Cover. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes more.
Serve with salad of dark green leaf lettuce, dice of the orange whose skin you zested above, and ranch dressing. Accompany with your favorite wholegrain bread.