This is one-pot cooking at its best, a light, fragrant braised lamb recipe loaded with spring vegetables and soft herbs.
It’s a version of my navarin, but it’s quicker to make and I’ve replaced the carrots and baby turnips with asparagus and chargrilled artichokes to marry with the peas and broad beans. It’s early in the season yet so the peas and beans came from the freezer and the artichokes from a jar. If you use fresh baby artichokes please adjust the cooking times accordingly. I suggest adding them at the same time as the potatoes.
I like to serve this braised lamb with spring vegetables straight from the cooking pot. Just put it on the table, provide a serving spoon and warmed bowls and cutlery and let people dig in. It needs nothing more. Mind you, a rhubarb dessert keeps the springtime mood alive – nip back later in the week for another recipe idea.
A note on double podding broad beans: I usually don’t bother when the beans are young and fresh but I double pod if they’re old or the skins have gone leathery in the freezer. Either blanch in boiling water for one minute if fresh, or just defrost if frozen, nick the skins with your fingernail and squeeze out the beans. Their fresh green colour is very appealing. This is also a good way of converting broad bean haters who object to the slight bitterness the skins can have as they age.
Braised Lamb with Spring Vegetables
2 lamb neck fillets, cut into approx 4cm chunks
2 tbsp oil (I used the oil from the artichokes)
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, trimmed, de-stringed and sliced on the diagonal
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
A large glass of white wine
About 600ml chicken stock
Bouquet garni of parsley stalks, thyme, bay leaf and rosemary, tied in a bundle
12 baby new potatoes, peeled or not, your choice
1 small jar of chargrilled artichokes, drained, oil reserved
12 asparagus spears, cut in 3cm slices on an angle
A double handful of peas, fresh or frozen
A double handful of podded broad beans, preferably small ones
1 heaped tbsp chopped parsley
2 heaped tbsp chopped mint
1 tbsp chopped lemon balm (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a deep frying pan, one with a lid, or a casserole. Brown the lamb all over. Remove to a plate. Now cook the onions and celery, sprinkled with a little salt, until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more. Put the meat back in the pan with any juices. Scrape a hole, squeeze in the tomato puree and cook it off for a minute to banish any harshaness.
Stir in the flour, cook it off for a minute more then pour in the wine and let it sizzle up, stirring. Add the stock – enough to just cover the lamb – and bouquet garni and season with a little salt and and a good grind of pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about an hour or until the meat is tender. Check the liquid levels after about 40 minutes and top up if necessary.
You can cook it ahead to this point if that suits your timings better – if you’re doing it a day ahead cool before refrigerating then bring it back to heat on the hob before proceeding with the recipe.
Add the new potatoes, put the lid back on and simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender, then mix in the asparagus, artichokes, peas and beans and cook for another five minutes with the lid off. Check they’re done, check the seasoning, stir through the chopped herbs and serve.
NOTE: the finished dish will be slightly more liquid than the one in the photo – I saved some for a daylight pic as we eat late and we’d slurped a lot of the sauce!