Cold weather calls for tender braises and root vegetables. Often made with beef and red wine, my version of this traditional Provençal dish pairs lamb with a crisp and tart white. The lamb emerges tender and plush, perfect over a pureé of sweet and earthy parsnips. Great for a chilly day when you have time to relax at home and cook.
Luberon N.4 – Recipe and photos by Christian Leue
2 lamb shanks and 2 lbs lamb shoulder -or- 4-5 lbs lamb shoulder plus 3 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin (shanks contain a lot of collagen which breaks down into gelatin), shoulder cubed in 2 inch chunks and well trimmed of fat
2 cups white wine with good acidity
1/4 pound salt pork
2 heads fennel, quartered, 1.5 pounds
2 bulbs garlic, top 1/3rd sliced off and bottom end scrubbed and trimmed of roots
4 carrots, peeled and cut in 2 inch lengths, 2 pounds
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock
1 28oz can whole tomatoes, drained and rinsed, reserve sauce
3 Tbsp Luberon N.4 and 2 bay leaves in a mesh bag
6 cups parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp each olive oil and butter
1 loaf sourdough bread, sliced
Piment d’Espelette or other fruity mild-medium chile
1. In a large bowl mix lamb with the wine, (gelatin if using), and a few big pinches of salt. Mix well and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours.
2. Save all vegetable scraps (including peels and onion skins) and simmer with 2 quarts water for 2 hours. Strain and reserve.
3. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
4. In a heavy pot (enameled cast iron or a copper daubiere are both ideal), cook the cubed salt pork over medium heat until rendered, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add the onions along with 2 big pinches of salt and stir well. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for 10 minutes until softened but not browned.
5. Add the stock, the lamb plus wine, the garlic bulbs and bag of herbs (making sure both are submerged), top with the carrots, fennel, and tomatoes, cover, and place in the oven to cook for 2.5-3.5 hours (longer if you have shanks, less if just shoulder).
6. Simmer the parsnips in the reserved peeling stock until tender, about 1 hour. Drain, reserving the liquid, and purée with the butter and olive oil until smooth. Thin with some of the cooking liquid if necessary. A strong blender gives the smoothest texture, though an immersion blender will also work.
8. Toast the sourdough slices and spread thinly with butter. Remove and discard the herb bag from the daube. Gently remove the garlic bulbs to a plate. They are excellent spread on the toast.
9. Serve the lamb and vegetables over a scoop of the parsnip purée and sprinkle with piment d’espelette. Or serve each guest a bowl of the purée and eat from the pot family style. Salt to taste.
Excellent with more aromatic whites like Roussanne (e.g. Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc), Viognier (e.g. Château-Grillet), off-dry Rhine Riesling, or a vintage Blanc de Noirs.
Fun to try:
• Try leftover lamb wrapped in flatbread with apricot preserves, shredded red onion, and crumbled feta.
• Use the braising liquid, leftover parsnip cooking liquid, and sauce from the canned tomatoes as the base for a flavorful soup.
Food images © Christian Leue
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