Spectacular Mutton Stew

The results of this recipe will forever alleviate your fear of trying mutton. Indeed a “Slow Food” and well worth the time. After the initial prep let it simmer virtually unattended for the duration.

Serves: 5-6.
Prep: 20 mins, plus 2 hrs.

2 lbs. mutton stew meat
5 Tbls. canola oil
1 large onion chopped
2 celery sticks chopped fine
1 carrot chopped fine
3 cloves garlic minced
1 bottle stout (or v.dark beer)
2 bay leaves
1 ½ tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. chili powder, optional
3 whole cloves
2 Tbls. fresh ginger minced
¼ c. fresh parsley
2 potatoes chunked, optional
2 carrots sliced, optional
salt and pepper

Cut any large pieces of mutton into small cubes. Don’t worry about fat or sinew, the long slow cooking will melt and tenderize all this and it will add flavor to the stew. Put a small amount of canola into a large heavy pot on medium high heat. When the oil’s hot put a sparse layer of meat into the pan (too much will create too much juice and prevent the meat from browning.) Leave it in place ’till it starts to brown and stick. Scrape it free and turn it. Brown it some more then remove it to a bowl and add more canola and meat. Repeat for all the meat.

Turn down the heat slightly and add the onions. As the onions start to sweat they will free the brown (burnt) stuff (intensely caramelized protein-yum!) from the bottom of your pan (with the help of a metal spatula.). Increase the heat, scrape and stir. Allowing each to cook for a few minutes, add the celery, then the carrot, then garlic. When they’ve all had a chance to get well acquainted, reintroduce the meat.

Add enough water to just see it through the meat. Add the stout, herbs and spices and parsley a teaspoon of salt and one of freshly ground pepper. Slowly simmer (barely at a tiny boil) stirring occasionally for 2 full hours.

Taste broth and re-season after first hour and at the end add more salt and/or pepper as necessary.

If you like vegetables in the stew, add carrots and potatoes in the last 25 minutes. Serve with hearty, crusty artisanal bread, fusilli (twisty) pasta, or rice, with or without the optional potatoes. If you want to thicken the broth to a gravy add 2Tbls. of flour dissolved in ¼ c. water to the stew and gently boil for 5 minutes.

Buon appetito!