french fridays with dorie: navarin printanier

Navarin printanier is the stew that almost wasn’t. Not to start off with an icky story, but be warned. I’ve gotten reasonably good at planning ahead for these weekly recipes I make for the French Fridays with Dorie cooking group. This one needed a few hours to slowly braise, so I planned to make it on the weekend, for Sunday supper, and then some leftovers. Saturday, I picked up the vegetables at my favorite local farm stand. Sunday afternoon, in the pouring rain, I went out to do a variety of shopping: Michaels (does anyone know where to find bunny rabbit stickers? I’m on the hunt), Off-Broadway Shoes (for new black flats), and the really nice grocery store in the same shopping center (for lamb, of course). I got a little lost at the shoe store and got home later than expected, so maybe the stew wouldn’t be for Sunday dinner, but stews are always better the next day, so I set out to make it anyway, for Monday and the week beyond. (Here’s the bad part…)

I opened the packages of lamb and wouldn’t you know they were spoiled even though the sell-by date was a week away. The smell was awful. I have never actually encountered spoiled meat before, so I was confused. I rinsed it, and even started cutting it off the bone, but it was wrong, just plain wrong. Howard came home from walking the dog and said something smelled bad as soon as he walked in the door. So, I loaded the meat into ziplock bags and we went back to the store to return it. They did give me “double my money back” for the inconvenience, but still, it was off-putting.

After a quick dinner out, we stopped at the grocery store near my house (different chain) to get a new round of lamb. I can tell you there was quite a bit of sniffing the plastic before going to the register. At home, I still wanted to make this before bedtime as there’s no way I’d have enough time after work later in the week, so I set to it, with my helper Howard chopping vegetables while I boned the lamb shoulder chops for the stew.

Fun fact: navet is French for turnip, so without turnips, this is not a navarin, it’s just lamb stew, or ragoût, since we’re being French here. This navarin was filled with spring vegetables: turnips, of course, baby potatoes, carrots, garlic cloves, pearl onions, peas, and herbs. I used extra potatoes and onions because I had them.

Once the meat was cubed and browned, a little flour, beef broth, garlic cloves, and herbs were added to the pot which transformed into gravy while the lamb braised. In the meantime, the chopped root vegetables were browned, then added to the lamb for melding while my navarin baked in the oven. Frozen peas were sprinkled in at the very end, giving some much needed color to this otherwise, rather brown dish.

I served the navarin alone in shallow bowls. The lamb was meltingly tender, and the starchy and green vegetables rounded it out. The onions completely fell apart and must have added to the thick gravy in the pot, because I don’t remember seeing any on my spoon, and I know that I added extras.

This was the perfect meal for the weather week we just had. After some unseasonable summery weather, cooler weather is back. It’s been in the 50s all week, so a warm comforting dish like this hit the spot. This is too heavy for summer eating, but I will definitely make navarin again when fall comes back around using winter squash and maybe some mushrooms.

I know that April has been a challenging month for many of the participants in French Fridays with Dorie. The main ingredients in so many recipes were ones that people have strong feelings about, one way or the other: sardines, coconut, and lamb. The coconut was challenging for me, but I found a way to participate, and yet, not, for that one. Onward to May, which looks to be a smoother road for all.

You can read about the other Doristas’ navarins here. For the recipe, you’ll have to look at the Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. Maybe you’ll even want to cook along with us on Fridays.

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Posted on 27 April 2012, in French Fridays with Dorie, Spring and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. I am much more pleased with what May is bringing :-) April was not good for me.

    Sounds like you had quite the experience with shopping… Glad you survived it all.

  2. I know which store you are talking about – ironically they are known for having a great meat department, right? Glad it worked out in the end.
    Try Playtime in Arlington for bunny stickers.

  3. Yikes, I don’t think I have ever smelled spoiled meat before either – sounds terrible. But at least the store gave you your money back and you ended up with a delicious looking stew. I felt like the onions totally disintegrated in mine as well but weren’t they so cute & miniature to start out with? :)

  4. Isn’t it so annoying to get home from the grocery with something spoiled…I’ve had that experience more than once! After everything you went through…your stew looks wonderful! Happy Friday!

  5. thekitchenlioness

    What a fun post to read – although I feel sorry for your inconvenience of having to return the meat to the store before you could get started (we would never ever get double the money back here, not a chance). I am glad that all turned out so well in the end – the wonderfully browned veggies and the final dish look delicious!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. You’re a trooper for sticking with this one. I might have thrown the towel in after having to return the meat. What a pain, I actually think that is very fair that they gave you double the money back because it really is an inconvenience to you to have to go back. After all that, thank goodness you liked it!

  7. I must say that you (and, your husband) are troopers and loyal foodies. No, I have never encountered bad meat. But, you did come up with what looked like, a very tasty dish. We all seemed to like this stew, whether it be of lamb or beef. I will make it again only when the weather is a bit cooler. I loved some of her techniques which made the veggies tastier and will use those in other dishes. Yes, April was challenging but didn’t we have fun in our “reporting” and groaning and encouraging each other and this is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

  8. Whew-glad you trashed that bad meat! Your stew looks yummy, nice your weather cooperated.

  9. Wow, what a terrible experience with that spoiled lamb. You are great to persevere and make this anyway. I once found a dead frog in a bag of frozen green beans–really strange! Anyway, it looks really good and I love the steamy photo!

  10. Yes, thank goodness for May. I did quite enjoy this one, but of course, I used beef instead of lamb!

  11. How awful about the bad lamb, Betsy. I am glad you were not put off by it though and forged ahead because this was truly a tasty dish. I did not know that without the turnip it wouldn’t have been a navarin, so I am glad I found one. :) I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  12. Oh! I’ve smelled bad meat! It wasn’t that long ago and I was like you, I just knew that it was wrong even though I was thinking maybe I was imagining it! But when I got the new meat it was so wonderfully fresh I realised how wrong the other meat actually was! I’m impressed you kept going!

  13. You are way more courageous and patient than I, as I would’ve not made the stew after the whole spoiled meat incident. Lamb smells terrible enough as it is.

  14. I am glad that it all worked out in the wash, despite the first round of meat. I loved this stew and would make it again.

  15. I didn’t know the fact about turnips making it a navarin–now I do. Thanks! Who would think you had to go shopping with lamb-sniffing dogs?

  16. ugh, that does reduce your confidence in where you buy your meat! I am lucky to be able to go to a butcher that can guarantee that the cuts are fresh off the animal that week or no earlier than the previous week but if you talk to them, you can get the cuts you need the day the animal comes in fresh from the farm – its pretty neat! :)

    Glad you got to make it and it’s something that you would make again!

    • We had been getting our meat directly from a farmer for the past few years, but stopped recently because the freezer was overflowing (we don’t eat it as fast as we were getting our shares). However, we’d eaten all the lamb. It was especially disappointing because that grocery was the one I had found to have the best meat department around. Your butcher sounds like a dream to have. Lucky you!

  17. I am so sorry about the spoiled lamb, that is definitely off-putting! Glad that it turned out good though, it was a great recipe!

  18. You poor thing, cutting up that spoiled lamb! It’s a wonder that you continued to make it. I bet you were sniffing that package endlessly on the second pack. Thanks for sharing the navaret term and what it means!

  19. Sorry to hear about your icky lamb. I had that same experience with some crab earlier this year. Very disappointing! Your are a trouper for staying up late Sunday to make it, but at least you were rewarded with that delicious stew waiting for you the next day!

  20. I am so impressed you started the recipe again after that experience, especially on a work night! So glad it worked out the second time.

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