Friday, April 5, 2013

Even Better With Lamb

After the successful rabbit-and-barley Anglo-Saxon-inspired stew, a request from my husband, Eric, for a spring lamb stew led me to try the same recipe with lamb.  The only change I made to the recipe (other than using lamb as the meat, of course) was to add some rosemary (probably not period for Anglo-Saxon England) to the pot, in addition to the other ingredients.

This stew was truly magical. Eric raved about how wonderful the taste was each time he ate a bowlful. I think it was the combination of the wonderful flavor of leeks fried in butter with the relatively mild flavor of the lamb, but for whatever reason, the resulting recipe is a keeper; I like it much better than any other lamb stew I've made. It's a pity lamb is expensive here.  However, I will make this pot at least once per spring from now on.


  1. Cathy - I can get young goat here at a mid-eastern market, and I'd like to give your recipe a try with that. Could you post the whole thing, please? Thanks. - J.D.Bell

  2. Hi, John! Welcome to the blog.

    The recipe has been published on the Internet several times despite it being copyrighted (it's from the British Museum Cookbook, as I noted in a post a year or so ago), but I've posted it once so I'll do so again:

    "Hare, Rabbit, Veal or Chicken Stew with Herbs & Barley
    [serves 6]

    In 7th century England, herbs were one of the few flavourings available to cooks and were
    used heavily...

    50g (2 oz.) butter;
    1 -1.5kg (2-3 lbs.) (depending on the amount of bone) of hare or rabbit
    joints, stewing veal or chicken joints;
    450g (1 lb.) washed and trimmed leeks, thickly sliced;
    4 cloves garlic, chopped finely;
    175 g (6 oz.) pot barley;
    900 mL (30 fl oz., 3 3/4 cups) water;
    3 generous tablespoons red or white wine vinegar;
    2 bay leaves, salt, pepper;
    15 fresh, roughly chopped sage leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried sage.

    Melt the butter in a heavy pan and fry the meat with the leeks and garlic till the vegetables are slightly softened and the meat lightly browned. Add the barley, water, vinegar, bay leaves and seasoning. Bring the pot to the boil, cover it and simmer gently for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or till the meat is really tender and ready to fall from the bone. Add the sage and continue to cook for several minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve in bowls-- the barley will serve as a vegetable."

    Here are my changes, OTHER than changing the type of meat: 1) Omit the vinegar (the sour effect didn't please either me or Eric); 2) Add a sprig or two of fresh rosemary to the other herbs; 3) Add more garlic. I used a crock pot for the actual simmering. I fried the meat and leeks in a skillet, put the meat into the crockpot, then added the other ingredients, brought the mixture to the boil, and added it to the crockpot and simmered until the barley was done.

    You may want to consider using the vinegar, since goat tends to be greasier and stronger in taste than lamb or rabbit or chicken, but experiment as you will and let me know the results!