Friday, October 8, 2010

Fields of Gold

And, suddenly, it is fall...

I was away for a week and upon my return the season had changed. I realized this when I went to the market. I found myself buying sweet potatoes, apple cider, squash and pumpkins, crisp, crunchy apples and a bouquet of sunny sunflowers for my table.

We noticed it in the landscape, too, driving through Kansas. Farmers were cutting field corn and hay, leaving golden stubble in the wake; behind the fields, bushy green/golden trees lined streams and the occasional farm house. Brick-red milo fields bumped against vibrant green winter wheat. An autumn rainbow. It brought to mind the lovely song, Fields of Gold, by Sting.

In honor of the new season, I plan to share my favorite soups and stews with you in the coming days.

Today's recipe is an old autumn standby for me. I clipped this recipe years ago from a magazine (I've since forgotten the source) and through the years, have modified it. I love the distinct, earthy flavor of the parsnips. This stew can be served over brown rice or with a crusty baguette.

Harvest Stew
Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds boneless lamb stew meat, cut in 2-inch chunks
2 cups thinly sliced onions
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 (16-oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups good beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
8 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in halves
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 each medium-size carrots and parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut in 4-inch pieces

Heat oil in Dutch oven or large pan. Brown half the meat at a time for at least 5 minutes. Take your time here--this is where you first begin to develop the stew's flavor. Do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam instead of brown. Remove browned meat to a plate.

Add onions to the pot and cook and stir occasionally for 5 minutes or until translucent. Watch the onions so they don't burn.

Return lamb and any juices to the pan and add the wine. Cook until reduced by half (3-5 minutes).

Add tomatoes, beef broth, tomato paste, flour, garlic, thyme and pepper, stirring to break up tomatoes and dissolve paste and flour. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Stir in carrots and parsnips. Cover and continue simmering 45 minutes.

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