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Saturday 21st October 2006

Navarin a la Printanière ~ Spring Lamb and Vegetable Casserole
Spring has well and truly 'sprung' here in New Zealand, the daffodils and blossoms are fading and most have been and gone. The lawns are beautifully green and lush making mowing a frequent chore and what were cute, little woolly baby lambs a few weeks ago, are now starting to blend in with the ewes.

Thankfully lambs don't stay cute for long. Before you know it they're bunting heads and generally getting aggressive with each other, jumping fences and playing havoc with the neighbours stock - especially the randy little boys. There's only one thing for 'em and that's into the pot with some lovely baby veges!

I like to cook the baby vegetables separately to ensure they don't break up and they stay looking their best. I also like to keep the little green tops on the baby carrots and turnips, again purely for looks. However if you're in a hurry or prefer fewer dishes, it can be a one pot meal.

  1. Trim the lamb well and cut into small bite sized cubes.
  2. Heat half the oil and butter in a large saucepan and brown the meat in 3 or 4 batches over a high heat, being careful not to overcrowd the saucepan and therefore 'stew' the meat. Remove and set aside.
  3. Place the second half of the butter and oil into the saucepan and add the large chopped carrot and onion.
  4. Cook over a medium heat until beginning to soften but not brown.
  5. Return the meat to the pan and add the garlic.
  6. Stir through the flour to coat the meat and vegetables and cook over a medium heat for 2 to three minutes, keep stirring so to not burn the flour.
  7. Add the bouquet garni, tomato purée and gradually stir in the stock, the casserole will slightly thicken as you do this.
  8. Bring to the boil and cover.
  9. Reduce the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour, to around 1 and half hours, stirring occasionally to prevent any catching to the bottom of the saucepan.
  10. Meanwhile prepare the baby carrots, turnips, shallots, potatoes and asparagus.
  11. Cook them in batches, separately in plenty of boiling salted water, until just they're just tender.
  12. Drain and cover everything except the asparagus, (I prefer to refresh the asparagus in ice cold water to retain the brilliant green colour.) set them aside in a warm place.
  13. Once the lamb is gorgeously tender, remove the cubes of meat from the casserole to a warm bowl.
  14. Pass the liquid through a sieve on top of the lamb, pressing the vegetables against the side to extract as much of their flavour as you can.
  15. Discard the remaining vegetable 'mush' and bouquet garni (the chooks and, or dog will love this!) and return the lamb and liquid to the casserole.
  16. Stir through the baby peas and cooked baby vegetables.
  17. Return to a simmer for 5 or so minutes to warm everything through.
  18. Finely chop some parsley and, or some mint and stir this through the casserole just before serving.
  19. Serve with some fresh crusty bread or a good mound of creamy mashed potatoes if desired.

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