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Creamy Lamb Stew

This delicate stew is a hallmark of French home cooking. Anick Colette in Normandy makes hers by simmering lamb or vela shoulder in an aromatic broth of herbs and vegetables, which is then strained and enriched with cream and beurre manié (flour kneaded with butter) to make the flavorful sauce. It is often served with white button mushrooms and onions, in keeping with the stew's subtle cooking.

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  • Servings: 4

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  • 6 parsley stems
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 3 pounds trimmed boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 large carrot, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground white pepper


  1. Tie the parsley stems, thyme and bay leaf in a bundle. Stick the cloves in the onion halves. In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, combine the lamb with the water, onion halves, carrot and herb bundle. Season lightly with salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then cook over low heat for 30 minutes, skimming occasionally.
  2. Using tongs, transfer the meat to a bowl. Remove and discard the herb bundle and the whole cloves, if you can find them. Pour the contents of the casserole through a fine strainer set over a bowl and press on the vegetables. Return the broth to the casserole; discard the vegetables. Return the lamb to the casserole and bring to a simmer over low heat.
  3. In a small bowl, cream the butter with the flour. Gradually whisk the butter paste into the simmering stew. Continue cooking until the lamb is very tender, about 30 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the lamb to a bowl. Simmer the sauce until reduced to 2 cups; return the lamb to the casserole.
  4. Whisk the cream into the stew and simmer for 10 minutes, skimming occasionally. Add the lemon juice, season with salt and white pepper and serve.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be refrigerated overnight.

Serve With

Sautéed spinach and rice pilaf or noodles.

Suggested Pairing

Lamb and a rich Bordeaux are a classic combination, but the delicate flavors of this stew point to a lighter, less intense bottling. Try a cru bourgeois.

Contributed By Photo © Anna Williams Published February 2000

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