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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Casserole of Lamb.

Now that the cold weather is coming in it is time to start thinking of stews and casseroles. I eat them at any time of the year and in any season but they are particularly good of a winters night when the rain is belting on the window and the wind is blowing.
This particular casserole is no ordinary casserole but a dish called 'Agneau Champvallon' and it is from Burgundy. This was a very popular dish in the '70's but you never hear of it these days. It is full of flavor and very hearty.
Lamb loin chops are the best for this dish or as you see in this photo I have a lamb steak which is a cross cut of the leg. The reason it is better to use a sturdy cut is that this dish cooks so long that the tenderness of the meat is not an issue. By the time it is cooked the lamb will melt in your mouth even if it is mutton. So why waste money on premium cuts of lamb.
As you will see by the pictures you need a lot a sauteed onions. They should by translucent and not colored. You will need some tomatoes stewed with garlic and thyme until it becomes a puree. You will need a baker potato. You will also need to saute your lamb and make a little jus with the pan drippings. You can do all of this the day before and let it go cold so it will be easier to handle.
The rest of this dish is just assembly and finally cooking.
Sliced potatoes are placed on the bottom of the dish, then a bed of onions and then a bed of tomato. The meat is then placed on top of this and the process is reversed until you end up with well arranged layer of potatoes on top. It is important that this final layer be well done as this will be the presentation layer. As you layer check the seasoning and add a petals of thyme as you go.
Then you pour the stock over the whole thing and bake it in the oven. Not a bad idea to drizzle a little olive oil on top as it is cooking.
One last tip; melt a little butter in a ramequin and five minutes before you take your dish out of the oven paint the butter over the potatoes. They should turn golden brown.
Cost: About $4.50
Flavor: Priceless.

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