Friday, December 2, 2011

Braised Lamb with Carrots and Potatoes

Carrots, celery, and potatoes are mainstays of savory cooking, and this week's recipe uses them in a delicious braised lamb dish.

The lamb I used is local, from Tehachapi, and sustainably farmed. It was raised by Nancee Siebert, who I met through the Master Food Preserver training program. Nancee has been raising lambs since she was a little girl. The lambs are born early in the year, and Nancee starts selling them in late summer until they're gone.

I bought a whole lamb from Nancee and served the leg at Thanksgiving. It was some of the most delicious lamb I've eaten. Nancee raises her lambs with love and you can taste it. As of this blog post, Nancee still has a few lambs left, so if you're interested in one, you can contact me through Silver Lake Farms for more information.

If you don't want to use lamb in this dish, you can use beef or chicken instead. The cooking times may vary, but braise until fork tender.

Braised Lamb with Carrots and Potatoes

1 T olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 lamb shoulder chops
salt and pepper
2 C water or stock
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped in 6-8 pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 rib celery, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 bay leaf
4-6 small potatoes, peeled
1 small celery root, peeled and chopped into 4-6 chunks

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan with a lid. Add the garlic and saute until aromatic and slightly golden.

2. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Brown them on both sides in the pan with the garlic over medium heat.

3. Add the water or stock. Scatter the chopped onion, carrots, and celery in the pan. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Then turn the heat down and slowly simmer, covered, until the meat is just tender, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

4. Add the potatoes and celery root. Sprinkle them with a little paprika and continue braising until the celery root is tender, about another 30-45 minutes.

5. Do not allow all the liquid to cook off. Add a little more water or stock, if necessary. If you end up with too much liquid, uncover and reduce on a low simmer.

Don't Throw Away Those Veggie Scraps!

Waste not, want not is one of my mottos. Between the hens, the worms, and the compost, we don't have much food waste. Still, when I have the time, I like to make a vegetable broth from the peels and scraps of vegetables that I'm using for another purpose, and this braise provides just that tasty opportunty.

Be sure to scrub the vegetables well before peeling. Put all the peels and scraps in a medium saucepan. Add a bay leaf, some salt and a couple of peppercorns. Add 4 C of water and bring to a very low simmer. The secrets to a clear broth are do not stir and never let it boil. Simmer, barely bubbling, until reduced by half, about 45minutes. Cool and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Do not press the solids. Feed the remaining solids to the hens or the worms.

You can freeze this broth for use later. It's a good idea to cool it in the fridge before freezing.

This week's bounty came from four farms:

From Underwood Family Farms: White cauliflower, tatsoi, mizuna, broccoli, Celebrity tomatoes, romaine, carrots, French Breakfast radishes, celery root, and artichokes;

From Weiser family Farms: Potatoes, carrots, Watermelon radishes, rutabagas, and beets;

From Sage Mountain Farm: Spaghetti squash, green heirloom tomatoes, arugula, and collard greens; and

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: Satsuma mandarins and limes.



pictured here are scraps ready for making broth, and below, the broth itself. Delicious!

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