Georgian Lamb and Vegetable Stew
- SERVINGS: 4
Darra Goldstein discovered this spicy, herb-packed stew when she was in the Republic of Georgia. The herbs are practically a vegetable here, so more is better, but keep the amounts of cilantro and basil roughly equal.
- 2 to 4 cups coarsely chopped cilantro
- 2 to 4 cups coarsely chopped basil
- 5 garlic cloves, smahed
- 1 jalapeño, stemmed and seeded (optional)
- 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 small onions, each peeled and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
- 1 small eggplant, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 pound Red Bliss potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 pound tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped, or one 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped, with their liquid
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup water
- Preheat the oven to 300°. In a food processor, combine the cilantro, basil, garlic and jalapeño and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.
- In a medium bowl, toss the lamb with half of the herb mixture, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a generous pinch of pepper. In another bowl, combine the onions, egg-plant, potatoes and tomatoes with the remaining herb mixture, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a generous pinch of pepper.
- Pour the oil into a 4-quart enameled cast-iron casserole. Layer half of the herbed lamb in the casserole, season lightly with salt and pepper and cover the lamb with half of the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and repeat with the remaining lamb and vegetables, lightly seasoning each layer. Add the water, cover tightly and bake in the oven for about 4 hours, or until the meat and vegetables are very tender.
The savory, spicy richness of this lamb dish signals not just a red, but a hearty one to match the intensity of the stew. Think Rhône red from France, such as the Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers or the Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage.