Eat in: the best food is made at home, 208pp.
by Anna Gare
Murdoch Books Australia, Crows Nest NSW, 2013
Cooking on page 132–33
I first encountered Anna Gare when she served as a judge on Australia’s Junior MasterChef competition, then again when she hosted the Great Australian Bake-off.
She has a wonderful presence on screen and she’s carried her charm, relaxed manner and confidence into this book. As she says, ‘cooking, like love, does not have to be rocket science. It is a way of thinking, tasting and feeling that allows you to draw pleasure out of what could otherwise be ordinary.’
The recipes she shares are her favourites and are based on fresh ingredients. Pages 32–33 were only photos and started the chapter on lunches, so I moved on to 132.
Mum’s lamb stew
splash of olive oil
2 brown onions, roughly chopped
5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
4–5 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
2 potatoes, roughly chopped
1 small sweet potato, roughly chopped (optional)
1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) braising lamb, diced
150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) plain flour
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) red wine
500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water
1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated purée)
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons rosemary leaves, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3).
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes, or until the onion has softened.
Add the celery, carrot, potato, sweet potato (if using), and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a heavy-based flameproof casserole dish.
Heat another splash of olive oil in a frying pan. Put half the lamb and half the flour in a plastic bag and shake to coat well, Shake off the excess flour, then add the lamb to the pan and cook until lightly browned all over.
Deglaze the pan with a little of the wine, then transfer the lamb to the casserole dish.
Add a little more oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining meat, flour and wine.
Add the water, tomato paste, tomato and rosemary to the casserole dish, season with salt and pepper, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
Bake for 2 hours, or until the lamb is tender (see note).
To make the gremolata
Wrap the parsley in muslin (cheesecloth) or a clean tea towel and squeeze out ad discard the juice.
Toss the parsley, garlic, lemon zest and salt together in a small bowl, then scatter over the lamb stew.
Alternatively, you can cook the stew on the stovetop over a very low heat. My mum used to cook hers in a pressure cooker.
How it played out
I made this mostly as written. I had only 1.3 kilos of lamb, so cut back some on the flour; back to 3/4 of a cup, which was plenty. Also used a cup of water and a cup of beef stock that I’d made earlier in the week.
The red wine was a lovely 2011 cabernet sauvignon from the Dog Trap Vineyard just outside Yass in New South Wales. Every now and then I drive to the twice-monthly Yass Farmers’ Market to buy a case. Great wine and very good value.
Gare said to use splashes of olive oil to brown the lamb, but I found that at least a tablespoon was needed for each batch to prevent major sticking.
I baked this in the oven and you can believe me, the smell was divine. Everyone in the house was hanging around the stove, armed with spoons and waiting for dinner to emerge.
This is, without doubt, the best stew I have ever, ever made. It was tender and flavourful and comforting and delicious. The gremolata was the perfect addition and, on reflection, I should have doubled that part of the recipe.
A friend joined us for dinner and brought her fabulous version of potatoes dauphinoise.
What a wonderful meal we had. Thank you Anna and Mother Gare for a truly sensational recipe. I will make this often during the chilly winter we are having.