The eastern states are buried under several feet of fresh snow, and the temperatures in Southern California have plummeted, as if in solidarity. My girls and I wear our socks to bed, put on several layers of clothing, and pile up blankets to keep our noses warm.
But nothing warms us up better than comforting food: a hot batch of homemade buttermilk biscuits, a steaming pot of creamy chicken soup, or a hearty pork paprikash.
When I can see my own breath inside the house, I crave simple, satisfying, peasant fare. And if the recipe comes from a friend, it makes my toes wiggle in delight and gets me ready to face another frigid night.
This satisfying lamb stew comes from my Serbian friend Vera who lived in Moscow for many years.
VERA’S GEORGIAN LAMB STEW
They say that people from Georgia (ex USSR) live very long lives and most experts atribute their longevity to their diet which consists of a lot of dairy, meat, and vegetables, all of it natural, unprocessed, and wholesome.
This recipe is simple and not fussy, easily adaptable and versatile. You can add or omit any vegetable and make it appeal to your family.
2 lbs young lamb, cut into big chunks
1 tsp coarse salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium/large russet potatoes, peeled
2 medium onions, peeled
4 roma tomatoes (or 3 ripe tomatoes)
3 bell peppers (red, orange and yellow), seeded, stems removed
2 smaller eggplants (leave the skin on), ítems removed
1 bunch parsley, minced
½ bunch of fresh dill, minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 quart chicken stock(you can substitute 1 cup of stock for 1 cup of red wine)
2 bay leaves
Sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet and brown the meat on medium-high heat, 4-5 minutes per side. In the meantime cut all the vegetables in rounds of approximately similar thickness.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Place the lamb on the bottom of a clay pot or a Dutch oven and Stara layering the vegetables in the order they were listed in the ingredients. Add parsley and dill on top, along with whole garlic cloves. Press lightly with your palm.
Pour the liquid (stock, or stock and wine mixed) into the pan with the lamb drippings, heated on medium temperature, and scrape the bottom to release all teh delicious bits. Pour on top of vegetables, making sure they are submerged.
Bake for 45 minutes and add bay leaves and peppercorns. Continue baking for another 15 or 20 minutes, until the meat is tender.
Do you have a recipe given to you by a friend, comforting enough to warm you up even on a coldest day?