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Cold weather calls for tender braises and root vegetables. Often made with beef and red wine, my version of this traditional Provençal dish pairs lamb with a crisp and tart white. Our lighter-on-lavender Luberon blend makes it all possible.
Ingredient substitutions are included so more people can enjoy this dish, and save all your veggie scraps they get used in the recipe.
The lamb emerges tender and plush, perfect over a pureé of sweet and earthy parsnips. Great for a chilly day when you have time to relax at home and cook.
2 lamb shanks and 2 lbs lamb shoulder -or- 4-5 lbs lamb shoulder plus 3 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin (shanks contain a lot of collagen which breaks down into gelatin), shoulder cubed in 2 inch chunks and well trimmed of fat
2 cups white wine with good acidity
3 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp miso, or 1/4 pound diced salt pork
2 heads fennel, quartered, about 1.5 pounds
2-3 bulbs garlic, top 1/3rd sliced off and bottom end scrubbed and trimmed of roots
4 carrots, peeled and cut in 2 inch lengths, 2 pounds
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock
1 (28oz can) whole tomatoes, drained and rinsed, reserve sauce
6 cups peeled and roughly chopped parsnip
2 tbsp olive oil and/or butter
1 loaf sourdough bread, sliced
Piment d'Espelette or other fruity mild-medium chile
Butter or olive oil
In a large bowl mix the lamb with wine, gelatin, (if using), and a few big pinches of salt. Mix well and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours.
Save all vegetable scraps (including peels and onion skins) and simmer with 2 quarts water while you marinate the lamb. Strain and reserve after 2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
In a heavy pot (enameled cast iron or a copper daubiere are both ideal), cook the cubed salt pork over medium heat until rendered or cook the miso in the olive oil, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add the onions along with 2 big pinches of salt and stir well. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for 10 minutes until softened but not browned.
Add the chicken stock, the lamb plus wine, the garlic bulbs and bag of herbs (making sure both are submerged), top with the carrots, fennel, and tomatoes, cover, and place in the oven to cook for 2.5-3.5 hours (longer if you have shanks, less if just shoulder).
Simmer the parsnips in the reserved stock you made, they will take about 1 hour to get fully soft. Drain, reserving the liquid, and purée with the butter and/or olive oil until smooth. Thin with some of the cooking liquid if necessary. A strong blender gives the smoothest texture, though an immersion blender will also work great.
Toast the sourdough slices and spread thinly with butter or drizzle with olive oil. Remove the herb bag from the daube. Gently remove the garlic bulbs to a plate. They are excellent spread on the toast.
Serve the lamb and vegetables over a scoop of the parsnip purée and sprinkle with piment d'espelette. Or serve each guest a bowl of the purée and eat from the pot family style. Salt to taste.
Excellent with more aromatic whites like Roussanne (e.g. Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc), Viognier (e.g. Château-Grillet), off-dry Mosel Riesling, or a vintage Blanc de Noirs champagne.
• Not a lamb fan? We forgive you. This recipe works very well with beef short rib and/or shanks as well.
• Try chicken thighs instead of lamb, and replace the tomatoes and carrots with small whole potatoes and chopped fresh lemons (peels and all). Reduce the braising time to 1 hour and use our Chios N.27 blend.
• Try leftover lamb wrapped in flatbread with apricot preserves, shredded red onion, and crumbled feta.
• Use the leftover braising liquid, leftover parsnip cooking liquid, and sauce from the canned tomatoes as the base for a flavorful soup.
Food images © Christian Leue.
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