Creating a stew is a relatively simple way to put together a complete meal. It also has the advantage of being able to be prepared well ahead of time, sometimes as much as a day or more. Many people also like stew because it is a delicious way to enjoy tougher cuts of meat through a slower cooking process, so that they turn out tender and juicy. Lamb stew is a such a dish, made from chunks of lamb and a variety of vegetables and seasonings.
There are many variations of this meal. Cooks can choose to season a lamb stew in different ways, resulting in a unique taste each time. Common seasonings used for lamb stew include fennel, thyme, chives and salt. Other ingredients that can be used for flavor are wine, bacon and beef broth.
The choice of vegetables can also give an interesting twist to a lamb stew. Carrots, onions and potatoes are often used because they add not only flavor but also heartiness, making the meal a filling one. Some lamb stew recipes call for ingredients as diverse as apples, tomatoes and eggplant, any of which can be used to give the food an interesting ethnic taste.
Depending on the locale, lamb is either a sheep that is under one year old or, in some places, under two years old. While the meat of a younger animal is generally more tender than that of an older animal, there are still parts of the lamb that tend to be tough. These usually cost less than the more choice, tender cuts because they are considered to be less desirable. The cuts include the flanks, neck and shoulder.
Being able to use inexpensive cuts of meat is a big part of the appeal of the stewing process for people on a budget. Almost any cut of meat can be put in the stewpot, and by the time it has simmered for hours it comes out as tender as meat costing several times as much. Often people make lamb stew from undesirable bits of meat and cubed chunks of parts that would be difficult to eat if they were turned into roasts or chops.
Lamb stew can be prepared well ahead of time, and many recipes advise that it should be prepared several hours in advance. Some even suggest that the flavors blend best if it is prepared a day ahead, completely cooked, then re-heated shortly before it is to be served. For busy families a meal that doesn’t require a lot of attention and that is forgiving about just when it is prepared is an ideal choice for those days when dinnertime is rushed.