January 6th - or today - is the last day to wish happy new year here in Estonia, so I'm just in time - Happy New Year, dear readers of Nami-Nami near and far! Wish you all a peaceful and productive year, full of delicious and nourishing food, with occasional treats and decadent moments!
We're in the middle of a very awkward winter here. While friends in the US and Canada are facing huge snowstorms, then we had a green and mild Christmas with temperatures hovering at around couple of degrees above zero (Celsius, that is). Most unusual and weird, though not unheard of. We're promised that the temperature drops towards the end of January and we'll get some snow as well, but I won't believe it until I see it. Still, hearty soups and stews are what we're cooking most at the moment - it is winter, after all - and this lamb with lentils was a great and promising start to the culinary year or 2014.
Oh, and as you can see, I'm now a proud owner of a beautiful red Staub Oval Cocotte - a Christmas present from my dear K (with special thanks to Tigu's Kristel for shipping one for me from Germany). I've already put this to good use.
Lamb with lentils
Serves four to six
about a kilogram of lamb pieces (on the bone)
rapeseed or olive oil
2 large onions
5 large carrots
2 celery sticks
70 g (about 3 Tbsp) concentrated tomato paste
100 ml dry red wine or port
600-800 ml (about 2,5-3 cups) beef bouillon/stock
175 g green (Puy) lentils, rinsed and drained
fresh parsley and/or rosemary, chopped
You can finish cooking this dish on the stove top or in the oven. If you're going to cook it in the oven, then preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F.
Peel the onions and carrots. Chop onions finely, roughly chop the carrots and celery sticks.
Season the lamb pieces with salt. Heat oil in a heavy cooking pot/Dutch oven and brown the meat pieces on all sides. Put aside.
Add the onions to the pot, sauté for 5 minutes on a moderately low heat, stirring every now and then.
Add the carrots and celery, increase the heat a little and fry for another 5 minutes.
Add the concentrated tomato pureé, fry for a couple of minutes. Pour in the wine, reduce by half.
Now return the browned lamb into the pot again, fitting the meat snugly between the vegetables. Pour over enough beef stock to nearly cover the meat. Put the lid on and simmer on a low heat or in the oven for about 2 hours, until the meat is pretty soft.
Now remove the lid and add the lentils. If the dish looks too dry, add a little stock or hot water as well. Cover again and cook for another 45-60 minutes, until the lamb is soft and falling off the bones and the lentils are cooked.
Season to taste, scatter fresh parsley and/or rosemary on top and serve.
We ate this as this, but you could serve it with rice or crusty wholegrain bread, if you wish.