I was digging around in the freezer for the bag of wildlife treats that I made around the holidays. The last time it was forecast to be this bitterly cold, I waited until it was pretty miserable to put out some treats for the wildlife. My wild neighbors chose to let the treats sit for three days. Each morning I got up to see if the treats had been wiped out, and each morning the treats were still there. Not a single nut or seed was touched until the wind died down and the temps rose above freezing at night.
This past weekend I got some food out there before all my furred and feathered friends went to ground for survival. Sure enough, I had two days of visitors and a fair amount of entertainment in the process. A first for me was real honest to goodness Eastern Bluebirds on the front porch! No, I don’t have pictures. I was too busy experiencing the moment to even consider taking a picture. Hopefully all my critters are tucked up fat and happy and as warm as possible for this rare Southern deep freeze.
When I was rooting around for the frozen wildlife treats, I stumbled on a package of lamb bones.
There must be a least twenty ways I like lamb stew. I love strong Middle Eastern flavors with cumin and chickpeas, and Greek flavors of oregano and lemon. I also love an Irish stew made with a good stout and big chunks of potatoes. I’m sure you get the picture.
What I ended up making was a nice mild lamb stew flavored with a ton of garlic and onions with white beans and kale as a one-bowl meal.
After I thawed the lamb bones, I sort of surveyed the meat to bone ratio and realized this would not be a big meaty stew. There were lots of bones and lots of gristle, but very little in the way of meaty goodness. One way to get more flavor from a bowl of soup is to make sure you get as much value from the bones as you can for real depth of flavor.
I trimmed the larger bits of meat from the bones and then set the trimmings to the side. I put the bones into a medium pot and covered them with water and seasoned with some salt and pepper. I brought the pan to a boil and reduced it to a slow simmer and covered the pot to let it reduce for two hours.
In the meantime, I made the stew base with my usual caramelized onions and additions of flavor and vegetables. I used a lot of garlic. A whole head of garlic to be exact! I peeled and crushed the cloves and gave the pile a rough chop with my knife.
When the onions were completely limp and caramelized, I added the small bits of lamb meat and stirred until lightly browned. I added all of the garlic, a bit of red wine, some soy sauce, and then all of the chopped celery and carrots. I stirred this a bit, added all the dried spices, and poured in the chicken stock. I covered with a tight fitting lid and reduced to a low flame and allowed the stew to meld beside the simmering bones for two more hours.
When the last of the meat and gristle was falling off the simmered bones, I strained the resulting stock into the stew and stirred well. I allowed the bones to cool enough to handle and then pulled the edible meat off the bones and added that to the stew too. I added the white beans, tasted for seasoning, and then raised the temp to high. When the stew was at a boil, I added the chopped kale and turned off the heat, stirred everything well and returned the lid to allow the kale to cook for a few minutes.
Right before serving, I squeezed the juice of one large lemon into the pot and stirred well.
The result was a silky flavorful pot of glory.
- 1 pound lamb bones, useable meat trimmed and set aside
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large white onions, chopped
- 1 whole head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 6 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 large bunch of kale, washed, stalks removed and roughly chopped
- Juice of one large lemon
- Place lamb bones in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Add salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover with a tight fitting lid and allow to simmer for at least two hours.
- Meanwhile, in a large soup kettle or stockpot on medium high heat, sauté the onions in olive oil. Stir occasionally for ten to fifteen minutes until the onions have caramelized.
- Add the reserved lamb trimmings and stir to brown the meat evenly.
- Add the red wine, soy sauce and garlic and stir well.
- Add the carrots, celery, chicken stock, salt and pepper and the rest of the dried spices and stir well. Cover with a tight fitting lid and reduce to medium low and allow to simmer for two hours.
- Add the white beans, the strained lamb stock and edible bits of meat from the bones and stir well. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning.
- Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, add the kale, cover with a tight fitting lid and turn off the heat.
- Check the kale after five minutes and stir in the juice of the lemon. Taste again for seasoning and serve.