Ciao'd watching Frankie and Grace (finally)
I heard a wonderful term the other day: the hundred days of May. God, it's so true. From the beginning of May until mid-June, when school lets out, it is literally a race to the finish. Teacher appreciation day. Step up day. Sports semis and finals. Banquets of every color - honor society, varsity athlete, you name it, these are just the ones I am attending. And then the finish line. Pre-school to elementary school. Elementary school to middle school. Mid to high school. And then (insert sob here) high school commencement. It sounds like a ramble but every mother knows it is a wink.
The days go by fast and the moments even more so. My son's school sent a message the other day asking parents to collect photos and make a collage for display at the sober (hah!) grad night. I am trying really hard not to embarrass him but I am partial to certain memories. My son in his high chair, age one, with cupcake frosting on his face. Our black lab chasing him bare butt-naked poolside (if Coppertone can do it, why can't I?). The first lacrosse game when he, like his fellow second graders, were mere bobbleheads (small boys, big helmets). A sneak pic when he, in his teenage lankiness, was languidly asleep in his bed (mouth open) during our college tour.
I am a human pin cushion. Each day during these hundred days of May a pin pricks my heart. How to slow down time? I wish I had an app for that. But we can't manipulate nature, regardless of our net worth or influence. That's why I decided to make a stew today. From chopping the ingredients to browning the meat to simmering the stew, this is not a get-food-quick endeavor. It is, however, a satisfying one. And isn't that what we wish from all our days?
SOFFRITTO LAMB STEW
Soffritto is the holy trinity of Italian cooking. Translated, it means "fried slowly." Soffritto is the undercurrent of flavor in so many Italian dishes. Onions, celery, and carrots are the underlying flavors but, like Italians, soffritto loves variations. In this recipe, the soffritto is composed of onion, celery, parsley, rosemary, and garlic. It adds a jolt of freshness to the rich lamb.
3 pounds boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks + leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dry white wine
3 1/2 cups beef stock
one 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
12 baby potatoes, cut in half
1/4 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
In a large bowl, sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper. Toss the lamb in the flour until evenly coated.
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or other deep pan. Add the lamb to the pan and brown on all sides. Do this in batches so as not to crowd the meat. If the pan becomes dry, add a bit more oil. Transfer the lamb to a plate.
Add the onion, celery, parsley, and rosemary to the pan and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes more.
Increase the heat to high. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, stirring to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Return the lamb to the pan. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and beef stock. Cover partially and simmer until the lamb is tender, about 1 hour.
Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Add the green beans simmer until the tender, another 5 to 10 minutes. Toss in the peas and cook until thawed, about 5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and serve. Crusty bread makes the perfect accompaniment.