Guinness Lamb Stew with Wild Rice

Guinness Lamb Stew 26

I know you all think I’m weird because I don’t like soup.  But spooning hot liquid into my mouth (and spilling it down my face, because that’s how I roll) is not my idea of a good time.  I do, however, have a fondness for stew.  Especially stew with beer in it, because beer is a great tenderizer of things.  And because I like beer.

Guinness Lamb Stew 7

I’ve had this stewing lamb in my freezer for a while and I decided it was probably time I do something about it.

Guinness Lamb Stew 1

So I took it out, put it on a plate, and patted it dry with a paper towel.

Guinness Lamb Stew 2

Then, in a bowl, I took a small scoop of flour, added salt and pepper, and gave it a stir.

Guinness Lamb Stew 4

Into that I hucked the lamb cubes, and gave them a stir as well.

Guinness Lamb Stew 6

I heated up my trusty cast iron skillet with a few tablespoons olive oil inside.  Then, shaking the excess flour off the lamb, I plopped it in the skillet to brown.

Guinness Lamb Stew 8

While that was going on I cut up some vegetables: carrots, an onion, and a package of mushrooms.

Guinness Lamb Stew 3

I didn’t have any potatoes, that classic stew thickener, so I decided to use rice.  This wild rice blend from Trader Joe’s is excellent.

Guinness Lamb Stew 10

Guinness Lamb Stew 11

I took the browned lamb cubes out and put them on a plate to rest a few minutes.

Guinness Lamb Stew 13

Then I added a bit more oil to the pan and chucked in the vegetables, giving the onions a wee bit of a head start in the cooking.

Guinness Lamb Stew 14

Once they’ve softened you can add the rest.

Guinness Lamb Stew 15

Now you can chuck the meat back in.  Then I plopped in some parsley, Newfoundland savoury, rosemary, and thyme.  If I’d had sage I would have used that, just to make up the lyrics to that “Scarborough Fair” song.

Guinness Lamb Stew 16

I also added a few more tablespoons flour.

Guinness Lamb Stew 18

At this point I ran out of space in my pan so I transferred the contents of the skillet to a larger saucepan.  I used a bit of beef broth to deglaze the pan a bit and poured that into the pot, along with the rest of the beef broth (about 3 cups).

Guinness Lamb Stew 19

Guinness Lamb Stew 20

Then came two cans of Guinness stout (minus a sip or two, for quality control of course).

Guinness Lamb Stew 12

Guinness Lamb Stew 21

Then the rice.

Guinness Lamb Stew 22

Then I brought it to a simmer, lowered the heat, and let that gently bubble away, stirring every so often, for about an hour.

Guinness Lamb Stew 23

Excellent. Even more so the next day.

Guinness Lamb Stew 25

Advertisements

Dolmades

I’m not sure when exactly my mother and I started making these Greek/Lebanese lamb-stuffed grape leaves, but dolmades (dolma is the singular) have been a staple of ours for potlucks and gatherings for ages and ages.  Feel free to experiment with yours.

First you need a jar of pickled grape leaves.  I’m sure there are different kinds of leaves that are good for different things, but we usually pick the jar that has the largest leaves with the greenest colour.  You need to drain and rinse these suckers a couple of times to get the brine off.You also want to cook up some rice.

Two cups cooked rice should be sufficient.

You can always freeze whatever you don’t use in a freezer bag for chucking into soups later on.

Defrost about 2lbs ground lamb.

A large onion.  You want to practically mince that sucker.

Parsley.  Lots of it.  Chopped up, probably about a cup.

Ditto thyme, though less so, probably a few tablespoons.

Don’t forget what I told you about freezing herbs.

You probably also want to add some dill, but we didn’t have any.

A handful of pine nuts.

Mix all those ingredients up in a bowl.  Use your hands, don’t be afraid.

Now take a grape leaf and lay it flat on a plate, vein side up. 

Take a tablespoon or so of your lamb filling and plop it on the leaf, near where the stem should be.

Tuck in the sides of the leaf.

Roll the rest of it up like a cigar.

Here is your completed dolma.  Now do that another 40-50 times until you run out of lamb.

Now, take the small and broken grape leaves and line the bottom of a large pot with them.  Place your rolled dolmades on top, close together, double-stacked, until you run out.

Drizzle your completed dolmades with a bit of olive oil.  Layer more grape leaves on top.

Fill the pot to the edge of the dolmades with chicken broth and bring to a boil before lowering the heat and simmering for about 45 minutes.

Serve them hot, serve them cold.  I prefer them nice and warm, as I think they have more taste that way.  They’re really good with yogurt.