Saturday 27 October 2012

Navarin of Lamb with Cavolo Nero

In our Abel and Cole veg box this week we had some good-looking turnips. I think they are probably "Purple-top Milan".

These inspired me to make a dish along the lines of Navarin of Lamb. There are lots of recipes for Navarin, but they are all different! The one constant theme though is the inclusion of lamb and turnips. In fact the name of the dish seems to be derived from the word "navet" which is French for "turnip". My dish doesn't claim to be authentic, by the way.

I just made the dish the way I would make a "normal" casserole. Browned the lamb (which had been marinated in garlic, thyme, bay and a little vegetable oil); softened the onions, added peeled carrots and turnips; topped-up the dish with stock and a good glug of red wine, brought it to the boil and left it to simmer for about two hours. About half an hour before serving-time I added a handful of frozen peas for some extra colour.

I actually added the turnips in two batches, because (being bought ones) I was unsure of their cooking characteristics. I put some in right at the start, cut into large pieces, and then I added some later, cut into smaller pieces so that they would cook quicker. Both batches performed well - the texture of the larger pieces was particularly appealing -  soft, almost gelatinous, but the turnips didn't disintegrate as I feared they might.

I served my dish with an accompaniment of Cavolo Nero from the garden. This dish was also one that I made up more or less on the spur of the moment, but inspired by something that Sara from Hillwards had said in a comment on my post called Spotlight on Cavolo Nero.

I removed the tough central veins from about a dozen large Cavolo Nero leaves, and tore the remaining soft parts into smallish pieces. I fried some smoked streaky bacon in olive oil until crispy, turned off the heat and added some finely-chopped garlic (also home-grown). The residual heat in the pan was sufficient to cook the garlic wthout burning it - which makes it bitter. Later (a few minutes before serving) I re-heated the bacon, added a splash of red wine vinegar (to give the dish a bit of a lift) and tipped in the Cavolo Nero. The kale cooks very quickly, and what looked like a monstrous pile of leaves soon collapsed into a manageable panful. It only took a couple of minutes to cook:

The finished dish was served alongside the Navarin, with the addition of some boiled new potatoes.

 In the last photo above you can see one large piece of turnip (centre), which is a lot darker than the smaller whiter pieces on either side of it. The big piece has absorbed more of the lovely lamb gravy during its longer cooking time. It's nice to have different textures in a dish like this, even if it does entail adding ingredients at different times.

This meal is very typical of the type of food I like to cook. Easy, but very satisfying, and making maximum use of good ingredients that are not excessively messed about with.


  1. That looks delicious. I love stews and casseroles on cold days, good warming food.

  2. Yup, you made lamb stew and I really love stew with turnips and can understand how good it must have been with lamb. The greens look wonderful too.

  3. I don't eat nearly enough turnips, I never seem to know what to do with them.

  4. Looks really good! I'd eat that!

  5. Looks great. Don't the kale and bacon/pancetta make fine companions? One of my favourites at this time of year.


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