Lamb Stew with Artichokes, Tomatoes and Bacon

I’m not very secretive about my affinity for Rachael Ray. I know she’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and she makes A LOT of pasta which — ALRIGHT, ALREADY! That’s enough. The world does not need 900 variations on mac and cheese. BUT! The woman knows how to get a quick meal on the table, and she has definitely helped me see ingredients I formerly thought were scary, as easy and approachable. (See: greens and MANY spices.) I love this about her, and for all of that, I’m not ashamed to say so.

Enter: Lamb.

Lamb is not something I cook with often. I don’t know why, I enjoy eating it when I go out, but at home it just seems so…foreign. This year I am trying to get more experimental with my proteins though, so when I came across a recipe for a Lamb Stew with Bacon in this month’s issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray I was intrigued. The first time I made it, I didn’t love it though, so I tried again and came up with an adaptation that I did love, and I wanted to share it with you in case you, too, are afraid to cook with lamb. This recipe couldn’t be easier, and a few little ingredient tweaks from the original recipe made it hearty, complex and a perfect dish to have simmering on your stove top on a weekend afternoon.

Lamb Stew with Artichokes, Tomatoes and Bacon
adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray
Serves 4 hungry adults

Ingredients

5 slices of bacon, diced
2 lbs of boneless leg of lamb, cubed (I had the butcher at Whole Foods do this. SCORE!)
Salt and Pepper
2 Medium Yellow Onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small sprigs of Rosemary
1 Cup Chicken Broth
2 10 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped (not packed in oil)
1 can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained

Method

1. In a 7 quart dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Then transfer to a medium bowl. Drain renderings from the pot if you have more than 1 TBS.

2. While the bacon is cooking season the cubed lamb liberally with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, brown on all sides. Give the meat time to brown. It is worth the flavor addition. The browner, the better! When each batch is done, transfer to the bowl with bacon.

3. Add the onion and rosemary to the pot with 1 TBS of drippings and again season liberally again with salt and pepper. Layering your seasoning throughout gives this stew great flavor. Cover and cook on low heat until all is softened (about 5-7 minutes.) Add garlic in and then stir until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Don’t let the garlic burn.

4. Add the broth, bring to a boil over medium high heat, and cook until nearly evaporated (about 5 minutes.) Then add lamb, bacon cans of tomatoes, and chopped sun dried tomatoes to the pot. Press a piece of parchment on top, cover pot and cook on low heat until lamb is tender (about 2 1/2 hours.) It’s lovely to just have this simmering on the stove top making your house smell good.

5. Remove parchment. Your stew will be very liquidy at this point so you can do one of two things. Cook on high until the liquid evaporates more and becomes more stew-like in its consistency (if you have time.) Or you can add a slurry of 1 TBS arrowroot + 1 TBS water and then continue to cook until stew gets to desired thickness, (about 5-10 more minutes.)

6. Remove rosemary stems, stir in artichokes hearts and ENJOY!

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