The holidays are over with and if you’re like me, you’re tired of eating beef, pork, turkey, and seafood. Eating pasta is definitely out of the question because it would only add to the recent weight gain put on by the holiday binge-eating. Yes, I was a naughty girl and also helped myself to one-too-many Italian fig cookies to top it off. What about chicken you say? Sad, but I’m sick of that too. So, it’s out of sheer desperation that I decided to cook lamb today. Being it was cold and rainy, I thought it would be a good day to make my mother’s lamb stew. This simple Sicilian lamb stew is made with tomatoes, wine, and potatoes.
I used leg of lamb to make this stew because it was what I had, and I was too reluctant to out and battle the nasty weather. Lamb shoulder is a better cut of meat for making stew but you can also use leg of lamb. It just takes a little longer to cook than lamb shoulder.
(Spezzatino d’Agneddu/ Spezzatino d’Agnello)
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 4 servings.
1 cup drained, canned whole, peeled plum tomatoes
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg of lamb, fat removed, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch cubes
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely diced
1 cup dry white or red wine
1/2 cup drained tomato juice or water
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, cut in 1 1/4-inch cubes
Place the tomatoes in a small bowl and crush into smaller pieces with your hand. Set aside.
Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat half of the oil, over medium-high heat, in a large Dutch oven or saute pan. Brown the meat in 2 batches until browned on all sides. Be careful not to crowd the meat so that it browns properly. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned meat into a medium bowl. Repeat with remaining meat and set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, stirring frequently to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Stir in the wine, tomatoes, tomato juice, honey, oregano, and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Add lamb and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pan with lid and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until meat is just tender. Add potatoes. Add a little water if there is not enough liquid remaining in the pan. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Continue cooking for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer, until potatoes and meat are tender when pierced with a fork. Laddle stew into individual serving bowls and serve with crusty Italian bread.