I was inspired by this recipe in the SF Chronicle. I changed it up a bit and was happy with the results. The dish screams ‘spring’ and went great with blanched spears of thick asparagus and roasted carrots. See what you think and let me know if you liked it.
Spring Lamb Stew with Fennel and Fava Beans
3 pounds boneless lamb stew meat (or 4 lbs bone in shoulder chops, cut into 2 inch pieces)
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup nice, dry Sauvignon Blanc
2 sprigs fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 bulbs fennel, tops removed and bulbs cut into 6-8 wedges
3 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled, blanched, and peeled-see below (or 2 cups shelled peas)
1 tbs chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Season the meat well with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium high heat. Add one layer of lamb pieces, they should not be touching, and cook until well browned on all sides, 4-5 minutes-transfer the lamb to a bowl. Continue browning lamb the same way, one layer at a time, until all the meat is nicely colored. Watch your heat-if the juices on the bottom are getting to dark turn it down. You want them nicely browned but not black. After all the lamb is browned and out of the pot, add the wine. Using a flat wooden spatula, scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the lamb and any juices to the pot along with the oregano and garlic. Cover the pot tightly and place in the oven for one hour.
Remove the pot from the oven and add the fennel, tucking it in so it’s well distributed between the lamb. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover the pot again and return it to the oven until the fennel is tender and nicely browned and the meat is very tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour more.
Place the pot on the stove, uncovered, and add the fava beans. Stir well until the beans are warmed through. Serve the stew, sprinkled wit the parsley, while still hot.
Note: To prep the fava beans, be patient! Place a large saucepan of generously salted water over high heat. Remove the fava beans from their pods and, when the water comes to a boil, add the beans. Cook until just tender, 3-4 minutes. Remove the beans with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water. When the beans are cool enough to handle, pop each bean from its skin and set the beans aside. Return the water to a boil.