Growing up in Uruguay, my mother used to make many a delicious dish for dinner that became favorites. This one most certainly qualified as comfort food. For a long time I tried to remember the ingredients, while my experiments usually worked well they never quite approached the flavor as I remembered it.
Recently, I came across a recipe that does full justice to my memories. Slightly adapted from MMMM… CASSEROLES (published by Parragon Books Ltd in 2010):
French Country Casserole
- 2 tbsp corn oil
- 4lb 8oz boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 6 leeks sliced
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup rose wine
- 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint, plus extra sprigs to garnish
- 1/2 cup chopped plumped dried apricots
- 2 lb 4 oz potatoes sliced
- 3 tbsp melted unsalted margarine
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Heat the oil in a large, flameproof casserole. Add the lamb in batches and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 5-8 minutes, or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the leeks to the casserole and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until softened. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and stock and bring to a boil, stirring. Stir in the tomato paste, sugar, chopped mint, and apricots. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Return the lamb to the casserole and stir. Arrange the potato slices on top and brush with the melted margarine. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours.
- Increase the oven temperature to 400 F, uncover the casserole, and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the potato topping is golden brown. Serve immediately, garnished with mint springs.
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!