Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lamb, Carrot and Green Bean Bredie

During college my friends and I would head to Atlanta for indulgent weekends away. It was in Buckhead where I had a very memorable taste of South African cuisine at a newly opened restaurant. In those early days they were selling a delicious bowl of lamb bredie (the word for stew in the Afrikaans language).

Last time I was in Atlanta I took a friend to taste this treasure only to discover that the bredie had been taken off the menu - this is one of my particular curses. Hot stews are probably quite a hard sell for most of the year in sunny Atlanta. We settled for a meal of Kingclip fish that night, but I searched for a bredie recipe the moment I arrived home. I was lucky enough to find Carole Kotkin's recipe in the February/March 2000 issue of Wine News.

For years my adaptation of this recipe became the go-to dish for entertaining on cold nights. I wanted to offer my guests something they had probably never tasted before - an exotically seasoned lamb dish. In the South, lamb doesn't make it the table very often or at least not to the tables I had the privilege to dine upon.

Economical, tough cuts of lamb, such as the flank, shank and shoulder are best for stewing. Leave the meat on the bone to impart more flavor in your dish, but double your cooking time. The version I have settled upon is boneless, but that is because my butcher conveniently provides packages of boneless lamb shank for stewing.

Bredies traditionally use whole spices, such as cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and berries. I have made this stew testing both whole and ground spices. Using ground seasoning tastes just as fantastic, but I don't have to fish out the sticks and such after cooking. 

Last week in Montreal the sun was shining and all the snow melted. Then on Sunday it started snowing down fat, feathery flakes again. This was not a welcome sight for me. Winters here can be hard on a girl from the South. The weather has turned to drizzle and dreariness now - this "comfort" stew is just what I need to brighten today.   

1/2 pound lamb for stewing, cubed (use tough cuts: flank, shank or shoulder)
1 tablespoon safflower oil
2 carrots, sliced
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 green chile pepper, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dark agave nectar
1 28-ounce can no salt added chopped tomatoes
1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

In a large pot, brown lamb in oil over medium heat; about 5 minutes. Add carrots, onion, garlic and chile; cook for 10 minutes. Add a little water (about 1/4 cup) and scrap the bits from the bottom of the pan while cooking.

Add the spices, agave and tomatoes; turn down heat, cover and simmer for 50 minutes. Add the green beans and cook an additional 10 minutes. Bredie served over streamed rice is the tradition in South Africa, but mashed potatoes or crusty bread work just as well.

Serves 6

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