Recipe and text from Falling Off the Bone by Jean Anderson
Photo by Jason Wyche
Makes 6 servings
When I was growing up in the “small-town South,” my Midwestern mother often served lamb to the horror of southern neighbors who wouldn’t touch it. Pork and chicken were their meats of choice with more expensive beef a close third. At long last the South has embraced lamb. Even farmer’s markets sell it, pampered organic lamb grazed on pesticide-and herbicide-free meadows. What I’ve done here is update one of my mother’s hearty lamb stews for today’s tastes. She’d be appalled by the amount of garlic, and to my knowledge, had never heard of prosciutto.
3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut in 1-inch cubes
1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour mixed with 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon each freshly ground black pepper, crumbled dried leaf rosemary and thyme (seasoned flour)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces prosciutto, finely diced
2 large yellow onions, halved lengthwise and each half cut in 2-inch wedges
2 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, cored, seeded, and each half cut in 2-inch wedges
2 large yellow or orange bell peppers, halved lengthwise, cored, seeded, and each half cut in 2-inch wedges
8 large garlic cloves, smashed and skins removed
2 large whole bay leaves (preferably fresh)
2 cups dry red wine such as Valpolicella, Merlot, or Cabernet
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Dredge lamb, a few pieces at a time, by shaking in a large plastic zipper bag with seasoned flour and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a large heavy nonreactive Dutch oven over moderately high heat until ripples appear on pan bottom—1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
4. Add prosciutto and stir-fry until lightly browned—2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, scoop to paper toweling to drain.
5. Brown dredged lamb in several batches in oil, allowing 8 to 10 minutes per batch and lifting each to a bowl as it browns.
6. Add onions, red and yellow bell peppers, garlic, and bay leaves to pot and sauté, stirring often, until limp—about 5 minutes. Return prosciutto and lamb to pot along with accumulated juices, add wine, and bring to a boil.
7. Cover, slide onto middle oven shelf, and braise until lamb is fork-tender—about 2 hours. Check pot now and then and if liquid seems skimpy, add a little more wine. Discard bay leaves, taste for salt and pepper, and adjust as needed.
8. Serve hot with boiled brown or white rice, buttered broad noodles, or boiled or mashed potatoes. I even like this stew ladled over baked sweet potatoes, halved and plumped.