I really do think I'm on an English cooking kick lately. I've been watching too much Gordon Ramsay and Raymond Blanc, apparently. This recipe is adapted from one of my Martha Stewart cookbooks. What can I say? I'm a Martha girl at heart. Her recipe calls for potato and rutabaga on top, but I used straight potatoes. The deep, rich sauce was just amazing and trust me, if you've made this in the past using canned soup, you're really going to see a tremendous difference.
This recipe made enough to feed 3 people. I was surprised it didn't make more and I will remember that the next time I make this dish.
Begin by taking 2 pounds boneless beef or lamb for stew. I couldn't find stew meat, so I bought chops and cut it up into bite sized pieces. Make sure you trim off the fat.
Take 1 celery stalk, a couple sprigs or thyme, 1 sprig of rosemary, 1 bay leaf, and 1 clove of garlic. Martha suggests you put all of this in cheesecloth but I couldn't find mine... so I did the next best thing......
I used butcher's twine. This is called a bouquet garni. We want to give the essence of these herbs to the dish, but not necessarily add all of it in. Does that make sense?
Chop up one onion.
Peel and chop 2 carrots.
In a skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium high heat. Once it's melted, add the lamb or beef and sear all the sides.
When the lamb is browned, add the chopped onion and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion starts to cook and become translucent.
Sprinkle 2 Tbsp flour on top and mix everything around. Turn the heat down just a bit. If this starts burning, pull away from the heat. You just need to coat the onion and meat with flour and cook it just a little bit.
Add 1 cup dry red wine. It will start thickening immediately so keep stirring and don't walk away from the pan.
Add 1 cup beef stock and our pretty little bouquet garni to the pan. Bring to a boil and then cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low low low and let cook this way for ONE HOUR. This will make that lamb soooooooooo tender.
After an hour, add the carrots. Cover again and cook for 30 more minutes. After those 30 minutes, remove the lid and let cook for a final 30 minutes.
Taste the sauce at this point. Season with salt and pepper. You don't want to season at the beginning because the sauce reduces and reduces and if you add salt at the beginning, it will only concentrate the saltiness and you could wind up with a sauce that is unedible.
While the sauce cooks those last 30 minutes, peel and chop up 6 or 7 potatoes. I used a mix of yukon gold and russett. Put the potatoes in a pot, cover with water and a dash of salt and boil until fork tender.
Once the potatoes are cooked, put in a strainer and let drain until they are dry.
Put the potatoes in a mixing bowl and whip with a little heated milk until they're creamy. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Remove the bouquet garni and pour the filling into the bottom of a baking dish. You could even put this into ramekins if you want to make fancy little individual servings.
Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the "stew" and spread all over the top using a frosting blade, or spatula.
Bake in a 350* oven for about an hour.
Serve with fresh bread and salad. Enjoy! (Martha if you happen to read this, thanks for a great recipe!)