Lamb and Barley Stew

Lamb  Lamb 2
I get truly, dorkishly excited about coming home from the butcher. I get almost as excited opening that thick, white paper as I do opening gifts on Christmas morning.

And plus, I love this particular meat market. The staff is so knowledgeable, and in addition to all the great meat, they have lots of different cheeses (I picked up some grana padano today, in fact), fresh pastas and sauces, some produce. It’s great (though I do wish they sold veal & lamb stock–that would be tops).

I always see no less than a dozen things I want when I’m there. I was really eyeing the veal shanks today, big time. But I figured those could wait for another day.

Today, I went for the lamb. I asked for some stew meat, and 10 minutes later I was home, tearing open the white paper. Mmmmm.

As much as I love lamb, I’ve never made a lamb stew (unless you count manestra–which is lamb and orzo cooked on the stovetop). I debated what kind to make. Do I use white wine and chicken broth for liquids or red wine and beef broth? Do I make an Irish stew or a Moroccan one? Should I stick with the Greek flavors I know and love so well?

In the end, I went for a really simplistic lamb stew with barley, made with white wine and chicken broth.  It was so hearty and comforting. And now I am stuffed to the gills (OK, you got me, I *did* still have room for those 2 fun sized Almond Joys. Stupid Halloween). 

Lamb and Barley Stew1 lb. lamb (shoulder or leg, cut into 1-2″ pieces)
flour, for dredging
olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 cup celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken broth
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, halved or quartered
1/4 lb. green beans or haricots vertes
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. ground marjoram
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 cup pearl barley
salt and pepper.


Season lamb with salt and pepper and then dredge in flour, shaking off excess.

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven. Add the lamb in batches, if necessary, and brown on all sides (not cooking through).  Remove.

To the dutch oven, add the onion (and more oil if necessary) and saute until just tender. Add the carrots, celery and garlic and saute for another minute or so.

Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits. Reduce slightly before adding the broth, bay leaf, marjoram, green beans and mushrooms. Bring to a boil and then add the lamb and the barley. Cover, cooking for about 45 minutes until barley is cooked and lamb is tender. (I took the lid off for about 5 additional minutes at the end to thicken the stew slightly). Season to taste.

Lamb and Barley Stew

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