This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Green-as-Spring Lamb Stew, is the perfect entrée for the winter weary. “The dish is really meant for spring,” Dorie says. “The stew’s vibrant color and deep vegetal flavor will match the landscape.”
What an understatement, to call the sauce green. Composed of arugula, spinach, parsley, dill, and tarragon, this is a brazen, in-your-face, do-I-really-want-to-taste-this dish? Green eggs and ham, okay. A shamrock shake? Yum. Green stew? That’s a stretch. It’s tasty. An ugly duckling, perhaps, but unique in its greenish sort of way.
Although Dorie’s meat choice is veal, I opted for lamb. Otherwise, Mary Had a Little Veal would not have worked as a title. Before tossing the lamb into a broth to simmer for 90 minutes, Dorie had us boil the meat in water for one minute to rid it of impurities that might cloud the sauce. After draining and rinsing the meat, I put it into the chicken broth along with carrots, celery, onions, garlic, thyme and bay.
Once the meat is cooked and set aside, the remaining ingredients are discarded, leaving just the broth. Reduced by half, it becomes a rich base for the sauce. Now here’s where we go green. That fresh arugula, spinach, parsley, dill and tarragon (six packed cups) are added to the boiling broth and cooked for one minute. The entire mixture is then blitzed to a thick liquid. Whisk in creme fraîche and lemon juice. Pull it all together and you’ve got stew. Green stew.
This recipe, which included eleven different herbs and vegetables, and last week’s Baby Bok Choy & Company En Papillote were the perfect recipes to assist me in another project this month. Last year when I returned to Aspen, I was invited to join a nature study group of five other women, all volunteer USForest Rangers. To be truthful, I was never really invited to join. I heard they were having a meeting at the local library. By coincidence, I needed to return some books. I lingered at the library meeting room’s glass window with my nose pressed against it until they, guess what, let me in.
We all share a passion for the great outdoors. During the past year we’ve studied, in depth, Rocky Mountain geology and it’s flora and fauna. We are learning more about western expansion, beginning with Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis & Clark expedition. This month we explored twelve of the families from the edible plant kingdom by coupling the common and recognizable foods we eat everyday with their wild flowering relatives who thrive in their natural setting in the Rockies.
Using Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy cookbook and Janis Huggins Wild at Heart natural history guide, we cooked, we foraged, we read and we analyzed. Last Thursday, at our monthly meeting, we presented papers on our chosen families. One of my families, Brassicaceae (mustard family), includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli rabe, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, napa cabbage, cauliflower and turnips, all vegetables I used in my FFWD recipes this winter.
Twelve members of this mustard family grow wild in the Rockies. All of them, Cardamine cordifolia (bittercress) or Noccaca montana (mountain candytuft), for example, can be used as herbs. Yes, I am becoming a forager. (Note to future dinner guests: I will not poison you.)
Food for thought: In this week’s recipe isn’t it amazing to realize the many ingredients we used, all representing many different families or sources, each with its individual characteristics and edible parts: Carrots, Celery, Dill and Parsley – Umbelliferae or Apiaceae Family; Onion and Garlic – Amaryllidaceae Family; Thyme – Labiatae Family; Bay Leaf – Lauraceae Family; Arugula – Brassicaceae Family; Spinach – Chenopodiaceae Family; Salt – Maldon, Blackwater Estuary, U.K.; Meat, Broth and Cream Fraîche – Cow, Lamb or Chicken.
Just think about it.
French Fridays with Dorie is an international cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table. You can grab the recipe and go green here. To see what my Dorista family cooked up this week, check out our FFWD site.