Spring Lamb Stew (Navarin of Lamb)

When making a stew, be sure to choose tougher cuts of meat (in other words less expensive) because they become tender and flavorful with long, slow cooking. I recommend making more than you need and freezing the rest for another dinner.


  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 2 lbs. boneless lamb stew and
  • 2 lbs. lamb riblets (with bone)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 small (or 1 large) onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 16-oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb. carrots
  • 1 lb. parsnips
  • 1 lb. sugar snap peas (or green beans trimmed)


In a large skillet brown the lamb in the oil and butter in batches. When browned on all sides, transfer the meat to a large casserole or Dutch oven. In the skillet cook the onions with half a teaspoon of salt for about 5 minutes, add the garlic and cook, stirring, another minute. Stir in the white wine and boil up to cook off the alcohol. Stir in the tomatoes with a little water. Bring to a boil and pour over the browned meat. Add enough chicken stock to come up to the level of the meat. Season with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika (if desired), bring to a boil on top of the stove, then cover the pot and place in a 350 degree oven, stirring occasionally for 1 ½ to 2 hours depending on the thickness of the meat. (At this point the whole thing could be chilled and saved for another day.)

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add half a teaspoon of salt. Cut the carrots into coarse sticks and cook in the boiling water until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the water and run under cold water. Do the same with the parsnips. When the parsnips have been removed and chilled, put in the sugar snap peas and cook for a minute or two. At this point, you can drain the peas and run under cold water as well. (These vegetables can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.)

When the meat is tender when pierced with a fork, transfer it to a warm serving platter. Boil in the sauce. If there is too much sauce, keep it boiling until you have enough to make a nice stew. If the sauce is too thin, add some more stock or water, and boil it for at least five minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour this over the meat and keep warm. To reheat the vegetables, place them in a large pan with a knob of butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper and reheat gently. Arrange the vegetables nicely around the stew and serve warm.

Serves 8.

Note: You could brown meat this way for beef stew, substituting red wine for white, and mushrooms and onions for the spring vegetables. Or, you could brown meat this way for pork stew, using white wine and chicken stock, and garnishing with sautéed onions and red and yellow peppers, and some chili for heat.

© Mary S. Risley