Gourmandistan has roasted, mashed, souped and snacked up seemingly a ton of turnips and rutabagas. Yet each Friday at our weekly winter farm share, Pavel continues to proffer more. The weather has turned ugly, forcing Steve into our old truck each morning for an icebreaking session in the creek. The chickens are miserable, and we miss fresh greens and fruit. Worst of all, it isn’t even February. Enough whining about winter, though—we understand others have winter much worse, without even a local turnip to gnaw.
Searching for another way to reduce our mountain of local-grown brassica roots, Steve suggested lamb stew. He’d seen a paper-wrapped package hiding among the pork parts in our freezer, and Michelle agreed it might use up one or two turnips. Ignoring Steve’s entreaties to chuck in extra root veg, Michelle decided on a proper amount of turnip, celery and tender young carrots (thanks again, Pavel!), and decided to cook them separate from the meat, a technique she learned from Thomas Keller. She consulted other Gourmandistan demigods (Martha Stewart, Darina Allen) and came up with this beer-battened version on her own. (Steve assisted only in convincing Michelle to choose beer over her much-favored red wine.) Dark beer gave the broth a hearty, slightly bitter bottom note, and the full-bodied vegetables contrasted nicely in texture with the oh-so-soft lamb (thanks again, Thomas!).
Someday winter will be gone, and so will these turnips. Until then we’ll remain happy warming ourselves with things like this wonderful stew, and thinking of fresh recipes (and a new oven!) to come.
(serves 4)1 lb. lamb stew meat, cut into 1” or 1-1/2” cubes All-purpose flour Neutral vegetable oil (e.g., canola) Salt and pepper 1 onion, sliced thin 3 or 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin 1/2 – 1 tsp. dried thyme 1 bottle dark beer 1/2 c. water 1/2 c. crushed tomatoes 2 medium turnips, peeled and diced About 1/2 c. carrots, peeled and cut into chunks 1/2 tsp. sugar 1 stalk celery, strings removed, cut into 1/2” slices Butter 1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed Worcestershire sauce Chopped parsley
Put lamb in a plastic bag with some flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, and shake.
Brown floured lamb in oil in a Dutch oven or large pot, in batches if necessary. Remove meat and set aside.
Add more oil to pot, if needed, and add onion. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until soft and just starting to color. If too dry as you are cooking, add a bit of water. Near end of cooking time, add garlic.
Return lamb and any juices that have accumulated to the pot. Add thyme, beer, water and tomatoes.
Simmer, covered, for about an hour until meat is soft.
At this point, you can cool and then refrigerate overnight.
Boil turnips in salted water until fully-cooked but still keeping their shape. Strain and set aside.
Boil carrots in a separate pan, in salted water seasoned with sugar, until cooked but still a bit firm. Strain and set aside.
Sauté celery in butter in a small skillet until cooked but still slightly crunchy. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Warm stew. Add turnips, carrots, celery and peas. Add additional water if necessary. Add a splash of Worcestershire and chopped parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.