Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lamb in Red Wine with Tomatoes

This week, I've been extolling the virtues of Reducing, Refining and Replacing your meat consumption.

Yesterday I briefly elaborated on "why," suggesting we'd implement the Three R's for health, budgetary and ethical reasons.

If you're looking for additional reasons to consider, here are 10 more!

Once you've made the decision to try and reduce your animal protein intake (while also considering the other two R's), the first challenge is to change your purchasing habits and buy meat that is hormone and antibiotic-free, and humanely farmed.

You might start by reading labels on packaged meat, ask your meat-counter clerk questions about the meat you're purchasing, and or research online what brands of meat are the highest welfare, and humanely raised.

You might even consider pooling resources with several others and purchasing a cow, pig or lamb from a local farmer who's about to slaughter livestock. If you cow/pig/lamb-share, it's a cost-effective way to stock your freezer with locally, and hopefully humanely-grown, meat.

You'll probably need an extra freezer to do this, since if you divide a butchered cow by say 4 couples, you may end up taking home as much as a 100 pounds of meat. Chances are if you are able to purchase meat directly from a local farmer, you can buy wholesale cuts, rather than enormous quantities.

During my teen years, my parents invested in a second freezer and did a lamb, and then a beef share. We ate red meat at least 6 nights a week! (These days, I eat red meat maybe once every fortnight.)

Australia and New Zealand are known for delicious lamb and that reputation is warranted -- it really is delicious. Today's recipe is based on one that my mother made with stewing lamb from our lamb share.

When you stew or casserole meat it's the surest way to eat smaller portions since you're more likely to serve a spoonful atop a vegetable, grain or as in today's post polenta (pic above).

Lamb in Red Wine with Tomatoes
1) Allowing about 3 ounces of lamb per person, brown stewing meat in an olive-oil lined stove-top casserole pot with a couple cloves of peeled and chopped garlic.
2) Open a good-quality can of tomatoes and pour into skillet with lamb, and over the lot pour enough red wine to almost cover the meat. No need to dash out and buy a bottle of red wine, just use wine from an open bottle that's been sitting around.
3) If you have any fresh rosemary, toss in a few sprigs. Transfer pot to the oven and bake at 350 for about one and half hours.
4) Taste test and season to your liking. If lamb is tender great, if it's still a bit chewy it may need more time in the oven. Add more wine (or water if you're out of wine) if it's looking dry, and cook a little longer.

To Serve: This stew is fabulous over garlic mashed potatoes, or rice with a side of crisp green beans. I chose to serve it the last time I made it with polenta (one cup simmered for 30 mins with 4 cups water then poured into a baking dish) topped with red pepper, black olives and tomato concasse (pic above), and on the side, a plain, green salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

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