Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 24, 2022
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Barboton d’agneau

A simple and satisfying lamb stew

The fancy version of this dish, Agneau Champvallon, uses lamb chops; the humbler original uses shoulder — cheaper and better for a stew — along with big chunks of potato that break off into the sauce and thicken it.

3 lb. (1.5 kg) boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-in. (5-cm) chunks

flour for dusting

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

4 tbsp. (60 g) unsalted butter

2 large onions (1 lb. / 500 g total), cut into ½-in. (1.25-cm) wedges

2 leeks (½ lb. / 250 g total), including white and pale green parts only, rinsed and cut into ½-in. (1.25-cm) slices

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 c. (250 ml) dry white wine, preferably Chardonnay

3 lb. (1.5 kg) Yukon Gold or other yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and quartered or cut into 1-in. (2.5-cm) cubes, reserved in cold water

6-8 c. (1.5-2 L) unsalted chicken stock or water

2 sprigs fresh thyme, preferably wild (serpolet)

2 sprigs winter savoury

1 bay leaf

leaves from 2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, minced

fleur de sel (French sea salt, available in gourmet food shops; alternatively, use a crumbly sea salt), for finishing.

Preheat the oven to 350?F (180?C). Place an oven rack in the centre of the oven.

Lightly dust the lamb with flour and season with salt and pepper. In an enamelled, cast-iron Dutch oven or a heavy, ovenproof casserole, melt 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and brown for 6 to 10 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter and sweat the onions, leeks and garlic, along with the meat, over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure they do not colour.

Add the wine and cook to reduce the liquid by three-fourths. Add the potatoes and stock or water, making sure that the lamb and veggies are covered by 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm). Add the thyme, savoury and bay leaf and stir well to incorporate. Cover the pot loosely with a lid or with an oiled or buttered round of parchment paper pricked with a tiny air hole in the centre. Return to a boil and transfer the pot to the oven.

Bake the stew until the lamb is very tender, and the potatoes are soft and have begun to break up, 1½ to 2 hours; cook for up to 30 minutes longer if necessary. Discard the parchment, if used.

Ladle the stew into shallow-rim soup bowls and sprinkle with parsley just before serving. Serve with pepper and fleur de sel on the side. Serves 4 to 6 as a main course.

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