long-simmered lamb & cauliflower stew

we love this stew.  it is thick, delicious, nourishing and its also simple to prepare- nice combo, right?  i discovered it years ago in jeff cox’s, the organic cook's bible and have been making it with my own tweaks and additions ever since.  the combination of browning and a long simmer is nice if you have tougher cuts of meat as they become fall-apart tender in the process (but you’ll need to pick out cartilage and other such chewy things).  i really like this with cauliflower, but potatoes make a nice hearty substitute when there is none to be found.  as for the wine, pick a red you like, something not too sweet and serve it at the table with the stew.  i particularly enjoy it with either a simple wine, like parducci's sustainable red or something spicy like frey's zinfindel.   if you have a large lovely stockpot, use it and you’ll have a one dish meal!  long-simmered lamb & cauliflower stew really begins to shine with a tangy topping, like plain yogurt or sour cream.  in a pinch, you can always top with fresh grated hard cheese.  this soup is sure to please, served with a green salad and brown rice or crusty bread and a heaping side of sauerkraut -a true winter provincial supper.

2 lbs stew meat:  lamb, beef or goat

1/2-1 cup spelt or whole wheat flour

2-4 Tbl olive oil, rendered fat or butter

1 medium onion, about 1 cup chopped

2 cups canned tomatoes and their juice, chopped

1 cup bone broth

1/2 cup red wine

1 wedge of lemon

1 tsp dried oregano

1 medium head cauliflower or 2 cups chopped potatoes

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt, cultured sour cream or pecorino romano,

sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Begin by prepping your stew meat by removing any excess fat or grizzle.  place flour and meat in a bowl and using your hands massage the flour into the meat so each piece is entirely coated.

Heat the oil in a saute pan on medium high heat, adding the pieces of floured meat, quickly browning each side, about 3-5 minutes.  if you have only a small pan, do this in batches, removing the meat between rounds and adding more oil as necessary.   once meat is browned, return to the pan, add the onions and continue to saute till they have wilted and browned.  

At this point, i transition to my larger enamel stockpot which doesn’t saute well, as my saute pan is too small to hold all the additional ingredients.  to a large pot add the browned meat and onions, tomatoes and their juice, bone broth, lemon wedge (seeds removed first) and oregano.  add about ½ tsp salt as well. bring to a boil, cover and turn down to simmer for one hour.

Meanwhile prep the potatoes or cauliflower.  potatoes, like fingerlings or yukon gold will need to be washed and chopped into something around ½” pieces.  if you are using cauliflower, remove much of the stem and cut into bite-sized florets.

After an hour, mix in the cauliflower or potatoes to your stew. taste and add more salt if necessary.  cover again and continue to simmer another 20 - 30 minutes until cauliflower or potatoes have softened, but are not falling apart.  turn off the heat.  add fresh ground pepper and a few shakes of hot chili peppers if you like.  ladle into bowls and top each with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of parsley.