Basque Lamb Stew

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Are you familiar with Basque cooking? Basque Country is a region bordering Spain and France at the Western end of the Pyrenees mountains. Basque descendants and communities can be found all over California and Nevada. (More on the history of the Basque people in the Wikipedia.)

Lamb stews are typical of Basque cuisine, as are dishes that include both tomatoes and sweet red peppers.

Basque Lamb Stew

My father first found the recipe from which we adapted this basque lamb stew in an old issue of Saveur Magazine. He has at least 20 years of back issues of Gourmet, Saveur, and other cooking magazines that he keeps around just waiting for a spare moment to review.

We’ve made this stew several times and just love it. It seems a little odd in that the lamb is first marinated in herbs and white wine, and then braised in stock and red wine. Mixing wines in cooking is so rarely done, but apparently it does happen on occasion in Spanish cooking (we’ve found references in Spanish cookbooks).

Updated, from the recipe archive. First posted in 2005. Enjoy!

Basque Lamb Stew Recipe

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  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 4 hours
  • Marinating time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Feel free to substitute some or all of the paprika with smoked paprika.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 lbs. lamb shoulder, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, about 1 tablespoon chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 10-ounce can roasted red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1 large ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry, full-bodied red wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock*
  • Freshly ground black pepper

* If cooking gluten-free, use homemade chicken stock or gluten-free packaged stock.

Method

1 Marinate lamb with garlic, rosemary, white wine: Combine the lamb, half of the garlic cloves, rosemary, and white wine in a medium bowl. Let marinate for 2 to 3 hours.

basque-lamb-stew-method-1

Drain the meat, discard the marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Mince the remaining garlic cloves and set aside.

2 Brown the lamb: Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan with lid, over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Salt the meat as it browns.

basque-lamb-stew-method-2 basque-lamb-stew-method-3

3 Sauté onions and garlic: Remove the meat from the pan and add the chopped onion to the pan. Cook, scraping browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

basque-lamb-stew-method-4

4 Return meat to pan, add paprika, roasted peppers, tomatoes, parsley, bay leaf, red wine, bring to simmer: Return the meat to the pan with the onions and garlic. Stir in paprika, roasted peppers, tomatoes, parsley, bay leaf, and red wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, allowing the liquids to reduce a bit.

basque-lamb-stew-method-5 basque-lamb-stew-method-6

5 Add chicken stock, simmer: Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Add freshly ground black pepper and more salt to taste.

Serve with rustic bread. If you want, try garnishing with fresh mint leaves (though I have no idea how "Basque" that is, it just tastes good.)

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Links:

Basque Chicken - from Not Quite Nigella

Basque Veal Stew - from French Letters

Chilindron, Spanish Venison Stew with Paprika - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Basque Lamb Stew

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Showing 4 of 74 Comments

  • Brian

    Love this recipe ! I have made it twice. Marinated it over night. Roasted 4 large home grown large red peppers and added mushrooms to add even more to the earthy taste. The longer you cook it the better it gets.

  • kazy

    Would the time that it takes to cook – 4 hours – be different if I use less lamb, like, let’s say I halved it or used 2 pounds instead of 3 1/2? Should I cook it less and if so, what’s the formula?

  • Elizabeth

    I was looking at this recipe–I found it on your blog years ago–I think I’ve been making this for at least ten years. One of our favorites. I’ve used leg of lamb, shoulder, or stew meat, just whatever I happen to find at the grocery. I’ve used red wine, white wine, even lamb & chicken stock instead of wine. It’s always turned out great! We love it with yellow rice–it makes for a gorgeous presentation.

  • Kate

    I’ve been wondering for months what to do with the rest of this lamb roast in our freezer and I thought a stew was the way to go. This one sounded so delicious, so I tried it with our roast lamb and it was SPECTACULAR!

  • el

    Yummy!

    Canned roasted bell peppers don’t seem to be a Thing where I live, so I just took two fresh bell peppers and roasted them in the hot cast iron skillet after browning the lamb and the onions. Worked great.

    This is kind of a different stew, very wonderful, and I will make it again no question.

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