“This slow-cooked stew is so simple to prepare and gives consistently good results. If you don’t want a straight-up casserole, or are looking for ways to use up leftovers, I’ve given you two topping variations – delicious fluffy dumplings, or creamy mash for a hearty shepherd’s pie. The choice is yours! ”
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
2. Trim the ends off the celery and roughly chop the sticks. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel the carrots, slice them lengthways and roughly chop.
3. Put a casserole pan on a medium heat. Put all the vegetables, bay and rosemary into the pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and fry for 10 minutes.
4. Dice the lamb into roughly 2cm cubes (if it isn’t already), then add to the pan with the flour.
5. Pour in the wine and tomatoes. Give it a good stir, then season with a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
6. Bring to the boil, put the lid on and cook in the oven for 2 hours 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender and delicious, removing the lid for the final 30 minutes and adding a splash of water if it looks too dry. (You could also simmer over a medium-low heat on your hob if you prefer.)
7. Remove the bay leaf and rosemary stalks, season to taste, then serve. Or finish it off with one of these toppings…
TO MAKE THE DUMPLINGS
1. Preheat or turn the oven up to 190°C/375°F/gas 5.
2. Put the flour and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper into a bowl, then grate in the cold butter. Using your fingers, gently rub in the butter until it begins to resemble breadcrumbs. Then add a splash of cold water to help bind it into a dough.
3. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and gently roll each into a round dumpling. The dumplings will suck up quite a bit of moisture, so if your stew looks dry, add a cup of boiling water and give it a good stir.
4. Place the dumplings on top of your stew and press down lightly, so they’re half submerged. Cook in the oven, or on the hob over a medium heat, with the lid on for 30 minutes.
TO MAKE SHEPHERD'S PIE
1. Preheat or turn the oven up to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Transfer your cooked stew to a large baking dish.
2. Peel the potatoes, cut them in half into even-sized pieces, and put them into a pan of salted, boiling water. Boil for about 10 minutes or until tender, then drain, steam dry and return them to the pan.
3. Add the milk, butter and a pinch of salt and pepper, then mash until smooth and creamy, adding another splash of milk if necessary.
4. Roughly top the stew with the mashed potato (don’t worry about it being smooth and even), pick over a few rosemary leaves and lightly push them into the potato.
5. Drizzle with some olive oil, lightly coating the rosemary leaves, then cook in the oven for 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.