The recipe I’ve made for today is Lamb Stew with Ham and Red Bell Pepper. Marcella says this recipe is different than most Italian stews in that it starts out a crudo-the meat and the oil is heated up together along with garlic, rosemary and sage. The temperature is kept very hot until the meat is well-browned, about 15 minutes. You then add white wine, salt and pepper. The pan is mostly covered, the heat turned down, and the stew simmers for about 1 1/2 hours until the lamb is tender.
You next skin a red bell pepper, and cut it into strips. This, along with strips of boiled unsmoked ham, are added to the stew, and cooked briefly. The pepper softens, but still keeps it fresh taste.
I have to admit I had to use a different cut of meat than Marcella called for. The recipe calls for lamb shoulder. I waited too long to have the butcher order it for me, so I had to have them recommend the closest substitution. They suggested leg of lamb. I don’t know my meats very well, so I don’t know if this was a close proximation or not. They cut me off 3 pounds, and used their saw to cut it into 2″ cubes with the bone in as called for. The stew was very flavorful, and the addition of the ham, and especially the red pepper, is what really made this taste special. The brightness of the pepper made a difference in the overall flavor. I’m not a huge lamb fan, as it is often too gamey-tasting for me. But this way of cooking it made a nice stew for a cold Alaskan evening.