Did I tell you? I’m a vegetarian. I plan to move on to full vegan next. After that, I will live only on pulses until my last pulse. There is only one little bit of weaseling in this. It’s all just “not yet”. Are you a little disappointed in me? Have I lied to you? Or, is it OK to really pump up one (good) aspect of what you do while you weasel the more important (bad) stuff you do?
Let me give you an example. Here in Ireland, we are lucky to be ‘served’ by a number of large supermarket chains. They all have CSR missions that include convincing us that they are really doing something about their gross overuse of plastics in their supply chains. They run ad campaigns, they put up notices (plastic ones) and they make commitments to do stuff by long after the time that I will be pushing up microplastic infused daisies.
All of this could be construed as commitment. That is if it weren’t for the weaseling. It’s a small thing. It’s the use of the “Not yet recycled” on rafts of their packaging. Imagine if we found this acceptable in other aspects of life. The groom who is sober for the wedding ceremony. The new mother who had put the seat belt on the child seat. The guy in a senior, high profile public position who had paid me the money he owes me. All are totally unacceptable when tied to “not yet”. (The third one is a story I will tell. But, just “not yet”.)
So, here’s my “Not Yet” Vegetarian Lamb Stew With Barley. I encourage you to not put it off. Don’t be like a supermarket weaseling, do it now.
- 1.5 kilos/3lb of cubed lamb shoulder. (See side note on lamb cubes below.)
- 150 gms of bacon lardons
- 150 gms of barley
- 5 stalks of celery
- 5 carrots
- 3 large onions
- 500ml/1 pint of good chicken or vegetable stock
- 3cm/1 inch pf root ginger
- 3 bay leafs
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of flour for dusting
Side note on lamb cubes: Ask your butcher to do the work for you on a shoulder. If your butcher tells you that he is not yet doing this, he probably just wants to sell you the stuff in the cabinet. This is not yet acceptable in my book. We want nice big chunks, not bone scrapings and lamb fat.
Add the pepper and flour to a large bowl. Toss the lamb chunks to coat. Heat a little oil in a large casserole dish/Dutch oven. Add the lardons and fry until they get a bit crispy.
Remove and reserve. Add the lamb and brown it on all sides. Do this in batches or you will overwhelm the cooking and the lamb will stew rather than fry. Reserve the lamb with the bacon bits.
While the lamb is browning, peel and slice the carrots and onions, wash and slice the celery. This is a chunky, hearty stew and the vegetarians amongst us will want to see nice tasty chunks sticking out of the gravy. Chop the ginger up nice and small.
Add the vegetables, ginger and a small amount of the stock to the casserole. Turn the heat down and sweat the vegetables for about fifteen minutes covered and then about ten minutes or so uncovered. This to firstly soften the vegetables and then to concentrate the flavours.
Add back the meat and then add the stock, paprika, salt bay leafs and barley. Give this lot a good stir. Bring it to a gentle boil before removing it from the stovetop and placing it in a 170ºC/340ºF oven for three hours. Add some water if you need to. The barley absorbs a lot of it and we want to end up with a nice thick stew.
I served mine with some mashed potatoes and a sprinkling of parsley. Neither are essential but both are lovely additions to this delicious dish. In fact, it’s meals like this that convince me to turn vegetarian, just not yet….