three pounds trimmed and cubed lamb shoulder
one large white onion, rough chopped
three large carrots, peeled and cut into big pieces
two large celery spears, sliced
six large garlic cloves, sliced
two bottles Guinness
hugeasse splash of Bulleitt rye (and copious swigs for the chef)
fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme sprigs
two bay leafs
fresh-ground long pepper
one teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder
one small can crushed san marzanos
two cups beef stock
two cups chicken stock
one cup whole buckwheat kasha
extra-light olive oil
This is the beautiful lamb shoulder I got from my local butcher. It was just freshly cut off the bone, and then he trimmed most of the fat off, leaving some for flavor.
Brown the lamb pieces in plenty of hot oil, leaving plenty of space so they really brown, and don’t just steam in their own juices. The point is to generate beautiful flavor, so it isn’t necessary to brown them evenly or on all sides.
Here’s the browned lamb.
And here is the beautiful flavor left in the pan! I drained off the bulk of the oil, and the leavings stay stuck in the pan. (If you use a non-stick pan, the leavings won’t stick and will be gone if you drain the oil. So in that case, I would leave the oil in the pan and then skim excess oil from the top of the stew after you start it simmering.)
Dump in the onions, carrots, and celery, and turn the heat down to a vigorous sautee level. Season liberally with fresh ground long pepper.
When the onion is getting translucent, throw in the garlic.
Continue to sautee until the garlic is soft.
Deglaze with the Bulleitt Rye, turn up the heat, and reduce until the liquid is almost all gone.
Add the Guinness, and bring back to a boil.
Add the tomatoes, herbs, beef stock, and lamb, bring back to a boil, and then cover and simmer on lowest heat. Note that at the beginning, it is going to taste bitter as shitte, but as it cooks, the vegetables will release sugars that balance the bitterness of the Guinness. It will take between one and a half and two hours of simmering for the lamb to become tender, although it can depend on the nature of the meat. According to the butcher, this was from a young lamb, so it didn’t take as long to cook as an older lamb or mutton would have.
After about an hour of simmering, add the mustard powder.
When the meat is just about done, take off the lid, turn up the heat, and add some flour or corn starch to thicken the sauce. While it is thickening, make the kasha: boil the chicken broth, add the kasha, stir it, cover, and simmer on low until all the liquid is absorbed, about ten minutes.
YUUUUMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Note: This recipe is adapted from Guy Fieri’s stout-braised beef short ribs.)