lamb stew with parsnips

3 or 4    |   
Prep Time:
15 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
about 2 hours (30 minutes active time)

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lamb stew with parsnipss

Doesn’t all this “new year, new you!” stuff in January bug you? How about new year, new stew? So much easier. I made this one on the fly last week when I saw lamb stew at the butcher shop and knew I had an aging parsnip in my producer drawer. I matched them up and it’s a great combo: the sweetness of parsnip pairs perfectly with lamb. The dish is elegant and a keeper.

It’s flexible, too. Double the recipe for more people, use extra parsnips to make it veggie-er, add carrots if you like, use dried thyme if that’s all you have or use rosemary instead. The only thing you shouldn’t compromise is the wine: use one you can drink with it. I used an Oregon Pinot Noir I drink almost every day (a happy Covid habit). Oh, and that cute little box of pink stuff in the photo is beet salt and you definitely don’t need it. I just thought it looked pretty.

I served this over creamy oven-baked polenta from my book Braises & Stews (made with white cornmeal from Capay Mills) but you can use any polenta recipe, or serve it over mashed potatoes or egg noodles. It’s a flexible dish. And flexibility is a great way to start the year.

1 lb boneless lamb stew, trimmed of excess fat
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ yellow or red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup red wine, such as pinot noir
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 large parsnip* (about 8 oz), peeled and cut into chunks
3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
cooked polenta, mashed potatoes, or egg noodles (optional)

Cut the meat into 1½-inch chunks and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the oil into a medium-size Dutch oven or heavy saute pan and set over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add meat to bottom in one layer. Cook, without stirring, until meat releases from bottom of pan when pushed with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Stir meat to partially brown it on the other side, about 2 minutes more. Add onion to pan (do not remove meat) and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and stir until it darkens slightly, a minute or two. Pour in red wine and let it cook off for about a minute. Then add chicken stock, parsnips and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat is fork tender, about 1½ hours (check once or twice to make sure it’s not getting dry. If it is, add a ¼ – ½ cup water). Remove from heat and let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving to settle flavors. Serve over polenta, if desired.

*or use smaller parsnips that add up to 8 ounces or add more parsnips of any size