May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

The past weekend’s kitchen marathon (more on that later, as there is cupcakey goodness that requires sharing, plus some other nifty stuff) pretty much ran me dry of some staples like powdered sugar, eggs, powdered buttermilk, cream cheese, cupcake wrappers…you get the picture: I needed a trip to the market. While I was at said market, it occurred to me that I had snap beans and fingerling potatoes from the farm market that I needed to use up, but nothing for an entree.

I ran through a list of my default entrees, and then a list of entrees I’d been considering but hadn’t tried yet and nothing seemed quite right. So I decided I’d just peruse the meat section of the store and see if anything struck me. I considered steak, and stew beef, and chicken, and pork chops…and then I saw the lamb. I love lamb. I almost never get to have it because I’m what my mother calls “frugal” and everyone else calls “cheap” so I’m only really willing to pay the premiums restaurants charge — on the rare occasions when they have it — if it’s something special like my birthday. And somehow, I had never cooked lamb myself. But…it was the perfect amount: about 1.5lbs, cut from the leg. And it was only $4.99/lb. Into my basket it went.

Ragout of Lamb

Ragout of Lamb. Also on the plate, fresh snap beans and fingerling potatoes and freshly baked bread.

Of course, I realized as soon as I got home that I had absolutely no idea how to prepare lamb. I grabbed a bunch of cookbooks and settled in. I immediately discarded everything that called for an overnight marinade…I wanted my lamb tonight! I considered kebabs for awhile, but I didn’t really have anything on hand to kebab them with. I finally settled on a recipe for Ragout of Lamb from the 1961 New York Times Cookbook. The ingredient list was simple, as was the procedure for cooking. Exactly what I wanted.

If you’re not sure what a ragout is, go read about it here — I’ll wait. (I had to look it up myself, just for the record.) I did have to tweak the ingredients a bit — for instance, I didn’t have Spanish Sherry on hand, so I just threw in some of the Zinfandel I was planning on drinking with the meal. I also substituted paprika for the black pepper called for in the original: I don’t care for pepper, and I like paprika. I do this a lot…I just can’t be bothered to get a bunch of specialty ingredients, and the stuff I have on hand tends to be stuff I like. If it’s close to what’s called for, it almost always tweaks the recipe in a direction I like.

Below is the recipe for the ragout. I prepared the snap beans like this; boiled the potatoes for about 20 minutes, sliced them up and added them to the beans; and the bread recipe is the same one I’ve mentioned previously.


(adapted from 1961 New York Times Cookbook)

  • 1 1/2 lbs lamb (I used a filet from a leg), in 1″ cubes
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • About 1 1/2 c. chicken broth (beef broth should also work)
  • 1/3 c. sweet red wine (I used Zinfandel because that’s what I was drinking)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Basil to taste

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a saute pan. Combine the flour, salt, and paprika in a dish suitable for dredging, then dredge cubed lamb. (Protip: I put it all in one of those white plastic takeout containers then just put the lid on and shook it all up instead of trying to dip each of the cubes in the flour dredge. Use a fork to flip the cubes out of the dredge and into the oil.) Cook lamb in preheated oil until brown on all sides. Add broth, wine, and garlic. Simmer for 2 minutes (give or take — you just want everything to heat through). If your saute pan is oven safe and has a lid, put the lid on and pop it in the oven for about an hour. If not, transfer it to an oven-safe casserole, cover, and pop it into the oven for about an hour.

Remove from oven and uncover. Immediately stir in cheese. If sauce is too thick, stir in a little more broth; if too thin, stir in a little more flour. Spoon onto plate. Garnish with basil.

Apologies for the poor picture quality: the battery in my DSLR was dead and I was hungry, so I just snapped a quick shot with my Droid.


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