One of those age old and timeless dishes that will probably outlive mankind is the good old fashioned stew. No matter where you go in the world every country has some other version/s of stew, even if named differently or eaten differently a stew is a stew is a stew.
I love going into the history of each dish and explaining where every dish originated but when it comes to this one I honestly would be writing lies if I tried. This recipe is for a mutton stew, you can interchange mutton with Lamb if you like. Remember that lamb will be a lot more oily though and may need you to constantly skim the layer of fat that gathers at the top of the stew as it cooks every 30 minutes or so.
People always confuse the difference between mutton and lamb. Industry standards dictate that a sheep that is between 1 and 12 months old can be labelled as lamb, any sheep that is slaughtered after its reached 12 months old must be labelled as mutton. When it comes to lamb cutlets and chops the age of an animal matters however when it comes to stews the importance on the age of the animal tends to be less important.
1kg Mutton, cubed and trimmed
1 can tomato puree
3 Onions, sliced
4 Carrots, cut into thick slices
7 Potatoes, cut into cubes
2 tsp Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
1 tbsp Parsely, rough chopped
2 tsp Paprika
3 Star Anise pods
1 tsp dried Sage
1 tbsp ground Coriander seeds
2 tbsp Flour
750ml Beef stock
250ml red wine
Fresh ground pepper
Cut as much excess fat off the mutton and discard.
Toss the mutton in the flour and coat well.
Heat a large pot with some oil and fry the meat off on a high heat until deep brown in colour.
Remove about 2/3 of the meat from the pot and then throw in all the onions and the butter. Keep stirring often until the onions are slightly browned.
Add the tomato puree to the mixture and allow to simmer, every time it seems the pot is about to burn add a little bit of the red wine and stir (this method is called deglazing).
Once all your wine is used up and the mixture is a dark and rich brown colour add the rest of the meat you had removed earlier.
Add your herbs and spices and mix well.
Add the beef stock, if it does not cover all the meat then add water to the pot until everything is covered.
Bring the pot to the boil and then allow it to simmer, covered, for 2 hours.
After 2 hours remove the lid of the pot and add your carrots and potatoes and allow the stew to simmer for another 30 minutes. Season and balance the flavour with salt and pepper
NOTE: Only add salt to the stew in the last 30 minutes, salt concentrates as it cooks so the later you add it the better.