Lamb Stew with Fennel, Preserved Lemon, and Crispy Fried Bread

9:00 am on 10 June 2019

Lamb Stew with Fennel, Preserved Lemon, and Crispy Fried Bread

Serves 6 to 8

Lamb Stew with Fennel

Lamb Stew with Fennel Photo: Michael Graydon

2½ pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 2-inch pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

6 garlic cloves, chopped

4 anchovy fillets (optional)

2 large shallots, finely chopped

1 large fennel bulb, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon fennel seed

1 tablespoon cumin seed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup dry white wine

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed

2 fresh or dried bay leaves

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

½ loaf crusty country bread, torn into 2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper

1 Preserved Lemon, homemade or store-bought, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves

NOTE: No matter what kind of stew you’re making, the size of the meat cubes you start with is everything. You want large pieces (about 2 inches) so you get more surface area to brown (where all the good stuff like caramel­ized bits happens).

DO AHEAD: Stew can be made 4 days ahead and refrigerated.

Season the lamb with salt and black pepper. Heat the canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add about half the lamb. Cook, stirring every so often, until the lamb is well browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a bowl or plate while you sear the rest of it.

Once the second batch of lamb is seared, drain off any excess fat.

Return all the lamb to the pot and add the garlic, anchovies, shallots, fennel, fennel seed, and cumin seed. Cook, stirring and scraping up any bits on the bottom, until the fennel has softened and is starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it’s a dark brick-red color, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and really get in there with the spatula or wooden spoon, scraping up all the bits on the bottom (yes, there are more bits).

Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and 6 cups water, and season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, until the lamb is completely tender and falling apart and the stew has thickened nicely (it should definitely coat the back of a spoon), 2 to 2½ hours. Adjust for seasoning along the way (this will yield better results than just waiting till the end).

When ready to serve, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the torn bread and stir it around so it soaks up a lot of that olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally (but try not to squish the bread; you want it fluffy), until the bread is golden brown and crispy on all sides, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the Aleppo pepper, and toss to coat.

Top the stew with the preserved lemon, marjoram, and fried bread.

 

 

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

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