I love anything slow-cooked and I love everything about it; the inner calm that comes from knowing that your dinner is taking care of itself while you plough through your day at work and/or home and ferry kids to their appointments and activities. That sweet, aromatic wave that wraps around you when you finally stumble through your front door, often laden like a donkey with groceries, school bags and mail (this pleasure is magnified ten-fold if it happens to be particularly cold, blowing a gale, or thundering and in these cases feels more like a feather-down quilt). Most magically though, the dish is always beautifully caramelized and the slow-cooked meat just falls off the bone, which has its practical side too; so useful if you are exhausted to your core and don’t have much energy to chew.
My mum’s beef stew was one of my favourite meals growing up. I remember the tender chunks of beef, carrots and potatoes, beautifully cooked but never over-done and that lovely, rich sauce, perfectly harmonizing all of the ingredients, which I LOVED to mop up with bread. I think that was my favourite part of the meal. I never, ever left a skerrick of that sauce. Talk about comfort on a plate!
In the meantime, I experimented with many slow-cooked recipes. I have a wonderful boeuf bourgignon, which I cooked often when living in France (and back home). The bone-chillingly cold winters (hey, for me they were, I grew up in Sydney) were a perfect excuse to indulge my love for slow-cooked one-pot-wonder meals. I was also recovering from adrenal fatigue at the time and it really was a food that fed my soul and would allow me to nap and sleep off this exhaustion while my oven got on with its job.
This lamb recipe is a variation that I came up with when I felt like a bit of a change. It’s also a nod to the origins of my husband’s family in Burgundy, France, the cradle of gastronomical delights like Dijon mustard, les Anis de Flavigny, Burgundy red wine and one of my favourite liqueurs, cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur ( think alcoholic Ribena). Liqueurs, because of their high sugar content are not paleo. Since my condition and health stabilized, I find I’m ok if I occasionally indulge and break some paleo rules now and then. However, you know your body best, what works for you and at which stage of healing you are at. I do also give other alternatives to make this recipe more auto-immune friendly. I hope you love this as much as we do. Please share, like and/or subscribe if you’d like to receive more of these recipes directly and I’d love to hear how you go with it.
- 1 preferably organic and grass-fed, lamb shoulder ( I have used this recipe also with a leg of lamb and lambshanks, which I seared at high temperature before continuing)
- butter or ghee (for sautéing veggies)
- 2 spanish onions, sliced into thin wedges ( brown onions are ok too)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely sliced
- several large carrots (peeled and cut into very large chunks)
- several sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into very large chunks)
- 1-2 heaped tablespoon tapioca flour (depends how thick you like the sauce)
- 2 cups bone broth
- 1 1/2 cups red wine
- 1/2 cup cassis liqueur (this does have a high sugar content, if you prefer you can use an extra 1/2 cup of wine instead or some drier alcohol like brandy or cognac. I have also used port which is also delicious, which however is also high in sugar).
- 2 very generous tablespoons of sugar-free blackcurrant jam or preserve ( I like the French brand St Dalfour with no added sugar) I have used a variety of flavours, including redcurrant and other berries, as well as fig. It’s nice to experiment. Alternatively you could make your own jammy fruit reduction by cooking fruit with honey or maple syrup on the stove).
- bay leaves
- sprigs of rosemary and thyme
- sea salt and pepper
- Peel and chop all of the vegetables.
- On medium heat in a large, oven-proof casserole dish/crock pot, heat 2 tablespoons ghee or butter.
- Add and sauté onions and garlic (approximately 1 minute).
- Once they begin turning translucent ( but careful not to burn) add celery. Continue to stir on medium heat.
- Add chopped sweet potatoes and carrot. Stir briefly on slightly lower heat.
- Add herbs and bay leaves, mixing briefly.
- Add tapioca flour and mix all of the ingredients, coating the veggies with the tapioca flour.
- Add fruit preserve/jam and bone broth.
- Place lamb shoulder into pot ( or seared lamb leg or lamb shanks).
- Pour cassis onto lamb (if using) and red wine.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- There are varying possible cooking times, depending how organized you are. I have cooked it (covered) in a very slow oven ( about 130 degrees celcius) for 6-8 hours, a combination of slow and fast ( 2 hours at 140 degrees C and then sped it up (we were hungry!) for another 2 at 170 degrees C or 170 degrees celcius for about 3 1/2-4 hours. Slow-cooked and low is always the best if you have the time. Second-day casserole is even better and occasionally I’ll add a second lamb shoulder but find I don’t need to completely double the other ingredients and liquid. An extra half or so usually suffices.
It’s not exactly casserole weather right now in Sydney, It’s finally warming up but it’s always casserole weather somewhere in the world. Enjoy and let me know how you go!