It’s hard to believe it’s fall, isn’t it?
Halloween around the corner? How can it be?
But Jamie Oliver makes the change of seasons easier to swallow with his “Incredible Lamb Fricassee My Way.”
Even in the Bay Area, where the days are still pretty summer-like, a big leg of lamb is not the first thing that pops to mind to sit down to at this time of year.
But Oliver’s lamb dish is a great one for easing into the slightly cooler nights. That’s because it’s made with a big handfuls of lettuce that soften and melt into the yogurt-fortified sauce, lightening the dish so that it doesn’t feel too heavy right now. Fresh dill and a generous amount of lemon juice also give the dish a liveliness. Plus, it cooks on the stove-top, so you don’ t have to turn on your oven for hours just yet.
The dish is from “Jamie Oliver’s Food Escapes” (Hyperion), of which I received a review copy. It includes more than 100 recipes from Oliver’s travels around the world. Get a taste of everything from Patatas Bravas from Spain to Beef Steak Venitian Style from Italy to Pork Terrine from France to Grilled Sardines from Morocco.
Of course, this particular dish hails from Greece. A classic avgolemono sauce of eggs and lemon juice gives the dish added body.
It’s a hearty dish, but not one that will weigh you down. It’s just right — whether you enjoy it in summer or on a day that you’re just wistful for that sunny season.
Incredible Lamb Fricassee My Way
2 1/2 pounds boned leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 bunches of scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
2 heads of romaine lettuce, washed and finely shredded
A bunch of fresh dill, finely chopped (stalks and all)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
For avgolemono sauce:
2 large eggs, preferably free-range or organic, lightly beaten
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
Season lamb with salt. Heat a few lugs of olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan and add the pieces of lamb. Stir and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, until lamb is brown all over — you will need to do this in batches. Once done, take the meat out of the pan and add the onion, garlic, and scallions. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften, but not color, then put the meat back into the pan.
Stir in the shredded lettuce and most of the dill and cook for a few more minutes, stirring constantly, until lettuce has wilted. Add a few good pinches of salt and pepper and just enough water to cover the stew. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a really low simmer, cover with a lid, and let it simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. After this time, remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the lamb is beautifully cooked and pulls apart easily (nine times out of ten the lamb will be perfect after this time, but it does depend on your size of pot and the age of your lamb). Keep an eye on it as it cooks, and add a splash of water if it looks like it’s drying out.
When you’re happy with the consistency, make the avgolemono sauce by whisking together the eggs and lemon juice until combined, then stir in an additional spoonful of Greek yogurt and a splash of water if need be. The yogurt isn’t traditional, but it adds a nice creaminess. Your stew should be happily simmering away, so take it off the heat and very gently stir the avgolemono through it. You don’t want to over-stir or the eggs will begin to set. Pop the lid on and leave for a few minutes.
Have a taste and add another pinch of salt and pepper or a squeeze of lemon juice if it needs it. Sprinkle over your reserved dill, then take the pan straight to the table so that everyone can help themselves. Serve with a tomato salad, the rest of the Greek yogurt for dolloping over, and crusty bread or mashed potatoes to mop up that delicious meaty sauce.
Adapted from “Jamie Oliver’s Food Escapes” by Jamie Oliver
Another Jamie Oliver Recipe to Try: Quick Portuguese Custard Tarts