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Navarin of Lamb / Mutton

A traditional French ragoût (stew) of mutton or lamb. The dish often contains turnips; the French name for turnip being 'navet'. The dish is very easy to make, but like many casserole-type dishes improves if kept overnight.
Although it isn't traditional, we recommend adding a little red wine when cooking the dish – this, in our opinion, improves it greatly – making it good enough for a dinner party.
If using dried haricot beans, they need soaking overnight (see below) – if using tinned, they should be added nearer the end of the total cooking time.

Ingredients

For 4-6 helpings:
1 shoulder or leg of mutton or lamb – boned by your butcher if possible (shoulder will be more fatty, but cheaper)
1 lb/450gr boned Breast of Mutton or Lamb, any excess fat removed
1 oz/30g Butter
1 tablespoon (15ml) Vegetable or Sunflower Oil
1 large Onion – peeled & chopped
2 large Carrots – peeled & chopped
6 smallish Turnips – peeled & cut into quarters
4 oz/ 120g Streaky Bacon – each rasher cut into 4 pieces
2 large cloves of Garlic – peeled & chopped
3 oz / 90g Dried Haricot Beans (soaked in cold water overnight) – or 1 x 400g drained tin of Haricot Beans
1 heaped teaspoon (7ml) Herbes de Provence – see www.gourmetherbs.co.uk
12 small Onions – peeled & left whole – preferably with their little root attachment intact (to keep the onions in one piece
1 teaspoon (5ml) Flour
1 x 400g tin of Chopped Tomatoes
½ a bottle (about 36ml) of Heavy Red Wine
a slither of Orange Rind – perhaps removed with a sharp potato peeler
Salt & freshly-grated Black Pepper

Method

1. Remove the meat from the shoulder/leg bone, if your butcher hasn't already done this for you, then cut it into 1½ ins/ 4cm cubes – removing most of the fat.
2. Cut the breast meat into pieces of a similar size.
3. In a heavy, non-reactionary saucepan (so not aluminium) with a close-fitting lid – big enough to hold all the ingredients – gently heat the butter & oil.
4. Add the chopped onion, carrots & turnips. 'Sweat' these until the onions become translucent (perhaps 5 minutes).
5. Increase the heat to medium, then add both types of lamb/mutton and turn these over until they have changed colour and 'sealed' all over.
6. Add the bacon pieces, followed by the turnips & garlic – plus haricot beans if using your own soaked beans (if using tinned, they should be added later [see below]; cook for a further 2 minutes, turning occasionally.
7. Lower the heat, add the flour, mix well in.
8. Add the herbs, then slowly add the red wine – adding it slowly, trying to eliminate the possibility of any lumps.
9. Add the chopped tomatoes + a measurement of half a can of cold water, and the slither of orange rind – and again mix in.
10.Either reduce the heat to very low & cook on top of the cooker – covered – for 2 hours; or cook (again covered) in the oven at 170ºC/325ºF for a similar time.
11. If you are using tinned haricot beans, add them – mixing in well – for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
12. Add salt & pepper to taste – being careful not to add to much salt – this will depend on the saltiness of the bacon.

Serve with Mashed Potatoes or perhaps Tagliatelle – with you have tossed in a little butter or olive oil.

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