It’s almost Easter and lamb is traditional for the Easter menu. For the dysphagia kitchen, I offer a recipe for lamb stew that is easy to puree. It also freezes well. The recipe serves six, so you can feed a family or store the extra servings in the freezer, labelled and dated.
This is made in a slow cooker on low. Some slow cookers have a searing function. Otherwise, brown the meat and vegetables in a sauté pan and then add to the slow cooker. This stew may be made on the stovetop in a Dutch oven cooking for two hours, or in a 350 degree oven for two hours.
The boneless leg of lamb is tender and cooks more quickly than stewing meat. I love veggies in my stew, so I have given you the option of adding a few new ones. Parsnips are sweet and turnips have a unique flavor. Welcome the vegetable world into your diet when you make stew. You will get the phyto-chemicals without even realizing it.
All veggies are cut to approximately the same size, so that they cook at the same time. I like sweet potatoes in lamb stew, but you can use white potatoes if you prefer. My choice would be Yukon Gold or red jackets. The gold potatoes are starchier and add body to the stew. The red ones hold their shape beautifully. For best texture on the potatoes, do not add until the meat has cooked for an hour. If you add the rosemary as a sprig wrapped in a little bag of cheesecloth and tied with butcher twine, you can flavor the stew during cooking and then remove the spice bag. This way you don’t have to strain the stew so that it is safe for puree. Let us save extra steps in the kitchen whenever possible.
Here’s a hint for variety in the dysphagia kitchen: There are two different ways to present this meal. Pureed as a stew, with all ingredients in the gravy, this is delicious. As an alternative, puree lamb and gravy separately from vegetables and gravy. The potatoes may also be pureed with gravy. In other words, if you separate the ingredients, the meal will consist of three separate dishes. You alternate bites, making it flavorful and varied for the person with the swallowing disorder. If you find that you have extra gravy, freeze it in half-cup portions, labelled and dated. You will then have a delicious pureeing liquid on hand for other dishes. Perhaps you might want to puree leftover fajitas, but need a sauce. Perhaps you have a serving of stuffed cabbage but not enough gravy. You get the idea! Waste not, want not – especially after shopping and cooking. All good cooks try to use everything. Food is precious.
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 2 hours Level: Easy Serves: 6
- 2 lbs. boneless leg of lamb, trimmed, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 3 tbsp. olive oil or good vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, halved and sliced into ¼-inch half-moon slices
- 1 medium parsnip, halved and sliced into ¼-inch half-moon slices (optional)
- 1 medium white turnip, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moon slices (optional)
- Chicken stock, 1 quart, homemade or store bought, lower sodium variety
- 2 tbs. tomato paste, thinned with 3 tbsp. water
- Shot of lower sodium soy sauce
- 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into one inch cubes
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with butcher twine
- Half package of frozen peas
Season the lamb with salt and white pepper.
In a Dutch oven, brown 3 tbs. vegetable oil. Do not over-sear the meat. You don’t want to create hard particles that will be difficult for the swallow. Use common sense here. You want flavor; you don’t want char.
Set lamb aside.
Add onions to the pan where the lamb was browned and cook onions until translucent, 2 or 3 minutes. Do not over-caramelize onions.
Add the carrot and cook a minute.
Add the turnip, if using, and cook a minute.
At the end, add the minced garlic and cook for a minute. Watch that it does not burn. It will get bitter.
Whisk the tomato paste with water and soy sauce. Add to the veggies.
Stir for two minutes, adding a tablespoon of water if necessary. Keep the tomato paste liquid and do not allow it to burn.
Add the lamb back into the Dutch oven.
Add chicken stock or just plain water to cover ingredients. Add the little spice bag of rosemary. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Cook for two hours on simmer.
After one hour has elapsed, add the potatoes. Stew may also be cooked in a slow cooker on low for four hours.
Toward the end of the cooking time, I usually add a slurry of two tablespoons of flour and two tablespoons of room temperature water, add a ladle of gravy and stir.
Add the whole slurry into the simmering stew and stir until gravy thickens. Allow the simmer to go on for five minutes to cook off the taste of the flour. I use Wondraflour for gravy because it is light and makes beautiful gravy without lumps.
At the end, add the peas. (Frozen peas have been steamed before freezing, so may be added to a recipe without cooking in advance.)
For the Puree
This recipe purees very nicely because of the gravy and also freezes nicely.
Remove the rosemary spice bag before the puree. Allow the stew to cool.
Place a cup and a half of stew into the bowl of a mini food processor or a blender (The blenders with double rows of blades, such as the Ninja, are fantastic for puree).
Use a half a cup of liquid to a cup of meat, potato and veggies. Pulse a few times to break down the lamb and the vegetables. Then puree to a smooth consistency.
Add gravy if the puree is too thick. If the puree is too thin and needs thickening, add potatoes and turnips and parsnips. If it needs further thickening, use half a packet of gum thickener, either powder or gel, adjusting the amount of thickener to attain the desired thickness.
Please refer to the Essential Puree Guidebook or the Essential Puree website for information on Instant Thickeners.
Featured photo credit: NguyenPhamDang via Pixabay, cc