Winter blues, lamb stew, with these turnips what to do?

Lamb stew

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.

Lamb stew


  • 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.


  1. Wow! That will chase the winter blues away for sure. I just made a big pot of beef stew (w/ red wine!) and it totally hit the spot. I also cook my vegetables separately, too many times fighting between overcooking or undercooking them. Beautiful pictures too.

    • Thanks, Conor! I almost called it “Irish Stew” as some of the recipes using beer do. But it seemed a bit presumptuous—particularly since I didn’t use an Irish beer, but rather some American one.

  2. Oh, how I wish I’d picked up that package of lamb stew meat last Thursday at the market. I’ve yet to make a stew this season and your lamb stew would be so very good right now. Whether it’s lamb, beef, or pork, there’s a stew in my future and its vegetables will be cooked separately, thanks to you. As for the beer-wine dilemma, I’ve both so I’ll let my mood decide on stew day. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    • Grazie! Stew is such a good winter meal. I always forget that it really doesn’t take long to cook. And you’re exactly right: it’s good with either wine or beer, depending on one’s mood (and what’s available).

  3. We’ve managed to avoid turnips so far this winter, perhaps because we’ve become obsessed with taro and sweet potatoes, but this stew, especially with the dark beer, sounds like a lovely way to touch home base. Really appealing. Ken

    • I used to despise turnips. My grandmother always cooked them on top of her (long-cooked Southern) green beans and I thought it was so gross. I’m amazed how much I like the many varieties available now, especially when they’re really young and fresh. But taro and sweet potatoes are really good, too!

  4. Hi! Beautiful photos..that last one is fantastic. On a different note, the last few times I’ve cooked turnips some of them have been a bit bitter. Do you guys ever get that? Any tips on avoiding it?

    • Thanks so much! I think the bitterness may be a problem of turnips that are a bit too large? Or maybe a little old? I always loathed turnips, but some of the ones we’ve gotten directly from farmers in recent years have been really good. Though I’m a little weary of them all right now, I must admit…

  5. Winter sadness! This part of winter is so difficult, isn’t it? When you’re just sick of being cold and want it to be spring and to eat things that are fresh and young and sweet. Still, this turnip stew seems like wonderful winter comfort food. I approve of Steve’s beer intervention. Stunning photos too.

    • Thanks, Sacha! We’ve spared everyone the gory details of our oven saga. Short version: Months of living with one dead/one half-dead. After months of waiting for a new double oven, it arrived but only one worked. Now, we’re supposedly to wait another several months for a replacement. Whew. Exhausting. But at least we have one oven that works for now! If you get a new oven or two, I hope you have better luck!

  6. Pingback: Top 7 Health Benefits to Eating Seasonally: Try a Quick Warming Hearty Healthy Stew with Winter Vegetables! « Life Balance Health Coach

  7. Pingback: Marinated Tokyo Turnip Salad « Putney Farm

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