I always think this is a casserole for those spring days when the weather is not behaving as it should and temperatures have plummeted. It is a warming dish yet the vegetables lighten it sufficiently to be suitable for spring. Carrots, turnips, shallots and new potatoes are my staples but I saw the baby fennel and thought they would be a tasty addition. I sometimes add blanched asparagus spears to the casserole just before the end of cooking.
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 900g shoulder of lamb, trimmed and cut into 3cm pieces
- 260g shallots, peeled and halved through the root if large
- 225g carrots, peeled and halved if large
- 225g turnips, peeled and quartered
- 160g baby fennel, trimmed
- 300g baby new potatoes, scrubbed
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
- 400g tin plum tomatoes
- 100ml white wine
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 6 sprigs thyme
- To finish
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Heat the oven to 170˚c, fan oven 150˚c, mark 3. Heat the oil in a large casserole and brown the lamb in small batches for 2-3 minutes, turning the meat over to brown it evenly. Transfer to a bowl.
- Add the shallots, carrots, turnips, fennel, potatoes and garlic and sauté for 5-6 minutes, stirring regularly. Pour in the tomatoes, wine, stock, tomato purée, rosemary and thyme. Stir in the browned lamb and season with salt and ground black pepper. Bring to the boil then cover the casserole with a lid and cook in the oven for 2 hours. Taste and season again if necessary. Stir in the mint and lemon zest just before serving.