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Superb slow cooked lamb casserole recipe (posh lamb stew)

 

Photo: A very bad photo of a very good meal

Photo: A very bad photo of a very good meal

I used not to be much of a fan of lamb casserole or stew. I think that I made it once for Danny and didn’t like it as it tasted bland and fattylike all the lamb casseroles I’d tasted before. Back then I didn’t have a slow cooker/crock pot – which is great for enhancing the flavour of cheaper cuts of meat.

This week the scales fell from my eyes when I used some lamb shoulder neck chops at the Highgate Farm Shop. Six chunky chops (900g) for just over four quid. Feeling thrifty I bought them, determined to make something good.

Slow cooking melted the sinews away and along with the bones helped to make a tasty sauce. This sauce turned into a thick jelly when chilled. So I’m going to go for a bone in cut from now on.

I’m sure that loads of people have been doing this for years but I discovered a way of easily removing all the fat from the casserole that you might find useful. I put two small plates over the meat and vegetables and pressed them down well before chilling overnight. In the morning the plates were surrounded by fat and when I lifted them off the fat came too.

This is now going to be standard practice to easily remove the fat from all dishes that need to rest overnight. No more dawdling, which you have to do when picking fat out with a teaspoon. The end of feeling guilty about giving up half way through. Don’t tell Danny.

We ate this dish last night and it was delicious – even I had seconds. I served the chops whole but if I’d been feeling really economical could have removed the meat from the bones, when cooked and easily eked out the portions from 6 to 8.

This recipe is best cooked in a slow cooker or crock pot.

Slow cooked lamb casserole recipe for 6-8

Ingredients:

900g of lamb shoulder neck slices
100g of unsmoked streaky bacon (chopped)
200g of onions chopped fine
250g of parnips (peeled, topped and tailed and chopped into chunky 2-3cm pieces
450g of Chantenay carrots (topped and tailed – skin on)
200g of celeriac (peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes)
1 celery stalk sliced very fine
2 chunky cloves of garlic (chopped very fine)
4 heaped tbsp of plain flour
1 tsp of dried savoury
Half a tsp of anchovy sauce (or 1 anchovy fillet chopped fine)
1350-1400 of boiling chicken stock (I used water and three stock cubes)
1 tsp of vegetable stock powder
Salt and ground white pepper to taste

Method:

Prepare all the vegetables, garlic and herbs and put into a large bowl.
Sprinkle the flour onto a plate and turn the lamb over and over in the flour so all surfaces a coated thickly.
Sprinkle the remaining flour over the bowl of vegetables and stir very well.
Put about a third of the vegetables at the bottom of the slow cooker. Add half the lamb slices, add more vegetables, the rest of the slices and finish off with a final layer of vegetables.
Make the hot stock and stir in the vegetable powder and anchovy sauce. Pour this over the lamb and vegetables making sure that when pressed down they are covered with stock.
Switch the slow cooker to high. When the stock is bubbling well (after about an hour) switch to low for about 3 hours until the meat is tender and the vegetables cooked.
Season with salt and ground white pepper to taste (it needs quite a bit of pepper but add this incrementally to avoid disaster).
As with many slow cooked dishes, this will be far tastier if chilled overnight. So it’s a perfect dish for cooking  in advance.


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13 Comments

  1. Magic Cochin

    Great to see you’re a convert to lamb – probably the meat we eat the most of. And buying lamb from a good butcher makes a huge difference. (I recommend lamb from Kedington Butchers, gets the gold star over Highgate Butchers by a short nose).

    Bones = flavour! Slow cooking lamb cuts/joints on the bone is definitely the way to do it. (I use a le creuset casserole in the oven – I will have to try your slow cooker method.)

    Streaky bacon/anchovy/three stock cubes/vegetable stock powder AND salt and ground white pepper to taste! I would think Danny would run a mile from my bland food! I would use fresh rosemary, a pinch of salt (probably quarter of a teaspoon at most – less salt if I’d used the bacon) ground mixed peppercorns and water.

    I gave up using stock cubes years ago and gradually increased the herbs and reduced the salt. Now restaurant food tends to taste disgustingly salty!

    Celia

  2. Jane Skinner

    Celia’s comments on salting food.

    The anchovy is an excellent replacement for salt. The Romans were enthusiasts! The only reputable stock cubes I have used are the Marigold brand – Kallo also does an organic vegetable cube, but on the whole this type of product is far too salty.
    Celeriac is a good choice – one of my favourite winter root vegetables. And makes a great addition to the roast root veg. tray we serve up these days – beetroot, carrot, parsnip, swede, sweet potato, etc. I like to sprinkle coriander and fennel seed on my root veg. mix.
    Mutton vs lamb.
    I am fortunate to have access to mutton from my friend’s smallholding here on the Herts/Essex border – she is a busy lady running a Connemara pony stud, so large recipes are ideal – she donates, I cook and we both enjoy hearty home-made fare. PoW, Charles Windsor has been campaigning for mutton to be made more widely available – alongside Hugh Fearlessly Eatsitall (I think you can work that one out!) so let’s have more support for this by asking our local independent butchers to stock it. High Street retailers too, come to that!
    best regards,

    Jane Skinner

  3. This sounds good – although I’m a less salty person too, and only add a very little occasionally, I do use Marigold bouillon though.
    Because we keep sheep, we eat a lot of lamb – well hoggett actually, which is 1-2 year old, and full of flavour, but does need fat removing, so I shall be trying the plate trick.
    We’ve just had some done for ourselves and a few customers, only to have one order cancelled! So I’m trying to sell of a half hoggett for the freezer – pity you’re not nearer!

  4. I’m also a huge fan of the slow cooker. Recently defrosted some beef for a stew. Hadn’t realised until it was defrosted that it was beef for boiling (bollito).

    I went ahead regardless, rather than change my recipe. (A good bollito needs the addition of some boiling chicken and a couple of bones, which I didn’t have.)

    It came out of the slow cooker as tender as any best cut. A great money saver. In these hard times, the slow cooker comes into its own.

  5. Please can some-one tell me what ‘dried savoury’ is where I can purchase it? (no waitrose near me)
    I’ve noticed that it’s included in many of your recipes.
    I’ve most of the ingredients required for the delicious sounding lamb slow-cooker method yet no dried savoury.
    Many thanks
    OdelleS.

  6. Jane Skinner

    Don’t worry, Odelle. I substituted thyme for savoury on my first attempt, and today’s dish has dried rosemary and a few sage leaves, with a sprig of bay leaves for good measure. Incidentally, I found that pearl barley was also an excellent addition to the stew.
    Best regards,
    Jane Skinner.

  7. Jane Skinner, thankyou so much, just came to check before putting it on to cook.
    Great ideas, couldn’t have wrote at a better time.
    Many thanks for taking the time to answer my query.
    Much appreciated Jane.
    Lv Odelle Smith.

  8. Hi Jane,
    Well here goes, it’s finally in the slow-cooker, at last, thanks to you!
    Went with your suggestion,fingers crossed,all should be simmering away nicely in an hours time,chilled and ready to sample tomorrow.Shall let you know on the outcome!
    I’ve had flu for 6wks now,feel dreadful still,no appetite,no taste,so I’m hoping this will prompt me in to eating especially as it’ll be already cooked,just needs some fresh veg. and creamy mash.
    Ever so grateful to you,
    Odelle Smith.

  9. Jane Skinner

    Dear Odelle,
    Sorry to hear you’ve been under the weather for so long – this dish will put you right like nothing else! We look forward to hearing that you are up and springing about like a young lamb again very soon.
    Best wishes, Jane

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Odelle

      I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had flu for 6 weeks :( Poor you. Do hope that you will be up and enjoying life to the full very soon. I really appreciate all the tips that you share on this site. Fiona x

  10. Hi there Jane, yes it looks rather good!
    Thankyou so much for your kind wishes.
    Here’s to lamb stew to put a spring back in to my step.
    Pleased that you can’t see me though, I do look feel ghastly, wait’ll I’ve got some of this down me for evening meal, I’ll be a ‘new woman’, better still a ‘spring lamb’ instead of an old flap of mutton! LOL
    Thanks again, all my best wishes,
    Odelle X.

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