Spring Lamb Stew with Mashed Potatoes
- 3 1/2 lb. leg of lamb, cut into 2-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
- 1 bunch radishes, trimmed
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 lb. shallots, peeled
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups peas (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed, stalks cut into
3-inch pieces and blanched for 1 minute
- 3/4 cup roughly chopped French chestnuts
In the stovetop-safe insert of a slow cooker, or in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Working in batches, brown the lamb on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the wine and stock and stir well. If you used a slow-cooker insert, return the lamb to the insert and set it on the slow-cooker base. If you used a sauté pan, transfer the lamb and the wine mixture to a slow cooker. Add the carrots, radishes, garlic, shallots, thyme and bay leaves. Cover and cook on high according to the manufacturer's instructions until the lamb is tender, about 3 hours.
Meanwhile, put the potatoes and 1 Tbs. salt in a large saucepan, add water to cover the potatoes by 3 inches and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Drain well in a colander.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the half-and-half, butter, salt and pepper. Heat until the butter melts and small bubbles form around the edges of the pan, 5 to 7 minutes.
Set a food mill over a large heatproof bowl and pass the potatoes through in batches. Alternatively, mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Add the half-and-half mixture 1/2 cup at a time and stir until just combined. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and set over a saucepan of barely simmering water to keep warm.
Five minutes before serving, stir the peas and asparagus into the stew. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Divide the mashed potatoes among warmed bowls, ladle the stew on top and garnish with the chestnuts. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.