Thursday, June 12, 2008

Red Wine and Tomato Lamb Stew


Incongruous, illogical, foolish.

It’s when you wear 4-inch pointy-toe stilettos to a party where you know you will be standing up all night. It’s when you get a blowout and it’s raining. It’s when you eat chilli with onions and pizza with garlic and anchovies on the night of your first kiss. It’s when you drink coffee at midnight. It’s when you eat classic French Onion Soup and you’re a vegetarian. It’s when you get in the car of that ex-boyfriend and accept his breath mints.

It’s when you make lamb stew in steaming 32C (and climbing!) weather.

As always, our summer was deadly hot and mind-numbingly humid. Somewhere in the latter part of May though, it seemed to lose steam (no pun intended). Rains came (rainy season follows summer...that’s how our seasons go) and it looked like the summer would be shorter than normal – sad in a way, but a relief too. It was way too hot already and I was running out of skirts and dresses to wear (the breeziest way to go in the summer).

Then suddenly, in June (which fyi, should already be rainy/back to school season) like an avenging angel, the heat swooped back down to flatten us. Sweat and lethargy grappled with me...sometimes rendering me unable to do even the most basic tasks! The heat raged anew, ignoring the thunder that tried to bully it away.

So why was I melting over a heavy pot of bubbling lamb stew when I was in danger of getting a good braise myself? Why do I wear stilettos? Why did I get into that car?

I know!
I would have been kicking myself if only I had the energy.

Red Wine and Tomato Lamb Stew
(inspired by* Red Wine and Tomato Lamb Shanks, page 124 Donna Hay Magazine issue #33)

  • 1 kilo lamb (stewing cuts, with bones)
  • flour for dusting
  • olive oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 head garlic, outer skins peeled but inner skin left intact
  • 3 onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 800-gram tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 400-gram tin chickpeas (260 grams drained weight)
  • 2-3 smallish potatoes (about 300 grams total), peeled
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • a generous pinch of your favourite chilli powder or flakes**
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

- Dust the lamb with flour and shake off any excess. In a heavy-based pot heat oil. Add lamb pieces and sear until browned, seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Add the onions and minced garlic to the pot and cook until soft and golden.
- Gradually add wine, scraping the bottom of the pot as you do to deglaze and get all the yummy bits.
- Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, potatoes, bay leaves, rosemary sprigs, sugar, chilli, and the whole garlic head. Give everything a good stir.
- Add lamb and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer for 2 hours or until meat is tender and sauce is thickened. Stir occasionally after the first hour to make sure the stew does not stick to the bottom of your pot and scorch it! When you do this, taste and adjust seasoning.

In my defense, we had some stewing lamb*** in the freezer and it was taunting us mercilessly! I had bookmarked a lamb shank recipe from the Donna Hay magazine winter 2007 (winter? Could I not see the warning signs?) issue that sounded fabulous – lamb stewed in tomatoes and red wine. I was itching to try it. And at the end of the day, we did enjoy the dish...even as I stared unbelievingly at C, who was wolfing everything down while beads of sweat popped up on his forehead. He loved it! So did I. But yes, it would have been much better eaten while a storm raged outside. Now I’m thinking of tossing the leftovers in the be resurrected**** once the rains come again.

*I changed and added a lot (the garlic head, chickpeas, and potatoes for example are my additions, all the quantities are different, I added chili, she used marjoram instead of rosemary...) so aside from the wine, tomatoes, and lamb, my recipe differs quite a lot from Donna's (but I still give her credit for inspiring me!) if you try this, and you don't like it, please don't blame Donna :)

**I used dried chipotle pepper flakes and a couple of generous glugs of Chipotle Tabasco sauce – my latest favourite supermarket thing :)

***This was made with another batch of mum-in-law lamb. She may not know this, but I haven’t had to buy lamb since she gave me the first batch! Thank goodness for small favors eh? ;) I hope I don’t jinx this seemingly steady supply of lamb. I’m making something for her soon I swear!

****The leftovers will make a kick-a** pasta sauce...I just know it! And you know I don’t use the word a** lightly (again, no pun intended).


Manggy said...

Yum, Joey! It looks like Caldereta, if you don't mind the comparison :) (of course, it's a lot different ingredient-wise...) What can I say about cooking in this heat? Well, a body's gotta eat! And there's no way to go about it without heat other than preparing a salad. How very un-Filipino, hahaha! :)

Ironically, it's raining quite heavily right now :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Wish I had a lamb supply like that one! Wish I had a bowl of the lamb stew!!
I loved your incongruous, illogical, and foolish situations, thing is that's just the way we do it;))

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a great dish! Very tasty! You were very courageous to cook a stew with that heat!



Juc said...

I just discovered your blog for myself. Where have my eyes been before, I wonder! God, how I just love it! The photos, the food, how you describe your trips (I'm a total travelholic myself), it's gorgeous, stylish, fun...

Barbara said...

It sounds wonderful Joey.

fran =) said...

ohhh this looks soooo good! i love any dish with lamb :)

Manggy said...

P.S. Dried chipotle flakes? Sosi!!!! :P

ChichaJo said...

Hi Manggy! I don’t mind the comparison at all...I love Caldereta :) Haha! I know what you mean...being Filipino I’m used to cooking in the heat...but a fried tilapia would have been a bit less painful than a full-on meat stew! Hey...the rains haven’t reach me yet, no fair!

Hi Tanna! are right, sometimes we just have to go the totally illogical way! I say, if that’s the way you choose, you might as well enjoy the ride ;)

Hi Rosa! Thanks! It took a lot of a/c to recuperate!

Hi Juc! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! So happy to hear you are enjoying my blog :)

Thank you Barbara! :)

Hi Fran! Thanks! Me too :)

Hello again Manggy! Haha! Di naman! Nawili lang ako sa City Super sa HK ;)

oggi said...

I know how you feel Joey. I have not cooked anything the past 4 days because of the heat wave we had in the Northeast USA. Cold everything (noodles, soups) is what I have been feeding my family lately and lots of halo-halo!

The lamb stew looks yummy, a must-try.:)

cakewardrobe said...

Your photos are so crisp and beautiful. I'm not sure where you're from but we've been getting a heat wave in NY and all I can think of is ice cream - and oddly enough, hot noodle soup. But when it comes to your lamb stew recipe, who cares about weather?! Great food compensates for it! :)

Stella (Sweet Temptations) said...

This is a great comfort food I'd love to have on this cold, windy day!
Love all the spices that you've used Joey!

LyB said...

You had me at red wine and tomato! That stew looks fabulous, no wonder you braved the weather for it! Warm weather just makes me feel so sluggish, I can't do a thing! :)

Peabody said...

This looks like a winner. I love lamb and so few people make it anymore.

mtan said...

This 'summer' is schizo! Heat, rain, more heat, humidity, rain again! Ano ba!!!!

But I have been eating a lot of meat - lamb, beef, pork - over the last few weeks. Am trying to change that to more salads since I keep saying it's too hot to eat meat. Illogical, humans we are.

Dhanggit said...

looks really succulent!! kudos for the tomato-red wine and lamb combination!!

Brilynn said...

I can practically taste it, that looks wonderful! And yes, it will definitely make excellent past sauce!

Ling said...

OK Joey this is Kinda Freaky. I've just finished making dinner, and thought I'd take a quick look at your blog before the hubby gets home - and I find out that I've made a recipe that's just one ingredient different from yours: Italian sausages in place of your lamb. I even had the three sprigs of rosemary!!

And yes, it's all hot and humid here too... :p

Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, sweetie, you made me laugh out loud! :D
We tend to do stupid things and then feel even more stupid for doing them, right?

But I understand why you could not resist the recipe - it's Donna's, after all! ;)

Anonymous said...

chooch, when i saw this recipe, i just had to have it! I cooked it today... will take a pic and send it to you! I did everything you indicated, i hope its lecker like schlecker!...more soon...x00x0x

Meeta said...

you wear those stilletos because they are the sexiest things since God made women, you got into that car because how can one resist that one last time and you made the lamb stew - to share it with me. Thanks sweetie! You are my kinda girlfriend!

Paz said...

I love lamb. This looks delicious!


Shalimar said...

well this is very greek food... I made this few days ago and i stewed the lamb for hours the only difference is i added CINNAMON STICK.. then i served the stew with pasta.... wala na iwan

katiez said...

Hopefully you weren't cooking this whilst wearing the stilletos!
Sometimes, desire for food outweighs common sense... I've been known to make chicken soup in the height of a heat wave myself....
Oh, looks wonderful...duly bookmarked...for our winter!

zlamushka said...

Amazing stew, I rarely eat meat, but when I do, believe me, it is always lamb, or maybe a bit beef. Absolutely luscious, would love to dig my spoon in right now :-)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Oggi! The weather here is going nuts...I am usually the biggest fan of summer sunshine but I need a break! Our a/c’s was already feeling the strain! As I type it is starting to rain though so I’m hoping this cools us all down!

Hello Cakewardrobe! Thank you! :) I am from Manila and everyday’s a heat wave lately! I read somewhere that hot soup will actually cool your body down (something about your body cooling itself to compensate for the heat of the soup) but sometimes these theories are just too painful to put to the test, hehe :)

Hi Stella! It is...It’s starting to rain here! Maybe the day has finally come!

Hi Lyb! I love cooking with booze! So red wine definitely had me hooked :)

Hi Peabody! Thank you :) I love flavourful!

Hi M! You said it!!! Right now it is finally raining...after what seemed like an eternity of thunder and pregnant sky! I think we humans do illogical things just because we can...go figure!

Hi Dhanggit! Thank you! :)

Hi Brilynn! Thanks! I’ll definitely be making this again as the weather is starting to turn...although you never know because the weather here has a mind of its own!

Hi Ling! Hmmm...we must have an invisible cooking hotline between us! An Italian sausage version sounds marvellous! (as for the is starting to rain so it will hopefully cool things down here a bit...but it is just as likely to be hotter and even more humid tomorrow!)

Hi Patricia! Hehe :) The least we can do I guess is enjoy the ride (if we are going to feel stupid in the end)! ;) This was part of a feature with a whole bunch of recipes involving booze...everything look fabulous! And I do have other cookbooks I swear!

Hey Spam!!! So nice to see you here! Thank you for leaving a comment :) Hope it was lecker!!! ;) Don’t forget to send me that picture!

Hi Meeta! I laughed out loud when I read your comment! You know it! You are my kinda girlfriend too! ;) I only wish I could really share some of this with you!

Hi Paz! Thanks!

Hi Sha! I never thought of it that way but yes you are very right...will try this with a cinnamon stick when I want a Greek twist :)

Hi KatieZ! Hahaha! No, I was in flipflops while cooking this ;) I know what you mean though...I have done crazy things for food!

Hi Zlamushka! Thanks :) Lamb stew is something I rarely say no to! :)

canDIshhh said...

It looks so effing good!! Too bad I don't eat Lamb! Might just switch it to Beef! Thanks for the recipe!! :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Candishhh! This will be fine with beef I'm sure :)

SteamyKitchen said...

lamb used to be one of the meats that I thought was so intimidating to cook - so I rarely bought it.

Then someone told me to just through it in the slow cooker and it's so easy now!

p.s. I wear stilettos while cooking no matter what the heat!

Bordeaux said...

I don't wear stilettos, but if I was a girl I swear I also would have worn them all the time. Regarding that comment on my blog about treats in exchange for sewing tasks. I would glad do that, and your dishes, and clean your house daily if it meant enjoying some of the dishes and delights you showcase here!

Chef JP said...

Love this recipe -- thank you!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Jaden! Lamb takes to slow cooking so magnificently I think :) Some meat, herbs, liquid in a pot...forget about it for a while... then impress the guests! I’m glad to see I’m not alone in stiletto fixation ;)

Hi Bordeaux! Haha! Stilettos make quite the statement...and even if they can hurt like hell after 3 hours on your feet, they are still too fabulous to give up! Woohoo! When you and I live in the same city we will reinvent the barter system! :)

Hi Chef JP! Thanks! :)

Shelly said...

This looks delicous!

Sophie said...

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ChichaJo said...

Thanks Shelly and Sophie!

Luney said...

Oh gosh. I MUST make this. Reading your blog about how hot and humid it is in the Philippines is great, since it's sometimes below sixty degrees Fahrenheit in my kitchen in the mornings these days, and I'm afraid of looking at the thermometer now (I'm wearing my fuzziest bathrobe over more warm clothes with a doubled-over wool blanket on my lap right now. I'm such a sissy.). The heat in this dish is what we all need in December. I've never really made dishes that are spicy before (The only "spice" they get is from an accidental tragedy of salt) but there are ethnic food places nearby, so this calls for a spice raid.

Thanks for the inspiration!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Luney! Maybe I could send some of the heat over to you in exchange for some of the cold? :) I wouldn't mind wrapping myself in a fuzzy robe and not thinking about sweat for a while!