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Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Traditionally, Greek lamb stew arrives blanketed in a thick egg and lemon sauce. That can be a bit too heavy for today’s taste, but the combination of lamb, egg, and lemon is too fresh and too wonderful to lose. A take on a classical Greek lamb stew utilizing pan juices for a light gravy whipped with a froth of egg and lemon offers a lighter, more contemporary version. The addition of artichokes and dill provides the sweet, verdant essence of a spring meadow.
1. Heat the oil in a large nonreactive skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add as many lamb pieces as will fit in one uncrowded layer. Season lightly with salt and pepper and sauté until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a dish, and repeat with another batch until all the lamb is browned.
2. Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and sauté until the onions begin to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lamb, any collected juices, and the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer until the lamb is almost tender, 40 minutes.
3. Add the artichokes, cover again, and continue simmering until the artichokes are almost tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the dill and simmer, uncovered, until the artichokes are very tender and the liquid has thickened a bit, 5 minutes.
4. Whisk the eggs in a bowl until bubbly but not frothy; then slowly whisk in the lemon juice. Remove the skillet from the heat and slowly whisk in the egg and lemon mixture. Return the skillet to low heat and continue stirring vigorously until the liquid is thickened and saucelike, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve right away.
Other Springtime Options: A multitude of vegetables work well in a stew with savory lamb. Equally, there are omnifarious ways to assemble the stew.
Instead of artichokes, try 2 cups of broad (fava) beans or freshly shelled peas (if adding peas, add them with the dill in Step 3).
Oregano can replace the dill.
Spring Lamb Stew is also delicious when made with the artichokes and dill but without the egg and lemon addition.
You can also substitute ¾ cup tomato sauce for the egg and lemon mixture. Add 1 cup wine in place of 1 cup of the water.
Substitute cut-up chicken for the lamb.
An Intriguing Rendition of Spring Lamb Stew: A splendid version of Spring Lamb Stew omits the lemon and egg and adds some extra ingredients—one a mystery—that make the dish a different celebration of Greece.
Increase the amount of garlic to 6 cloves
Change the 5 cups water to 3 cups water plus 1½ cups dry white wine
Along with the artichokes, add 12 to 14 Kalamata olives and 5 to 6 anchovy fillets
Omit the eggs and lemon juice
Cook as directed on this page
The anchovies that abound in the Greek waters are the mystery element. They dissolve in the cooking, yet their hidden presence deepens and enriches the stew until guests will ask how you came up with such a sumptuous concoction. It’s up to you whether you reveal the secret or not.
It’s important to use lamb chunks cut from the leg. Otherwise, the meat is too fatty for a delicate fricassee. The leg bone can be added to the stew for flavor and then removed before Step 4.
Nutritional information includes 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)
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