I trust in Barbara Kafka. She is the author of three of my favorite cookbooks (Vegetable Love, Roasting-A Simple Art, and Soup: A Way of Life), and while her recipes may not always be perfectly authentic, there is absolutely no doubt that they will taste good. That seems to be her biggest worry. So while it looks like this recipe from Vegetable Love is going to be a watery, bland mess, it's actually robust, lively, and perfect for the upcoming fall.
What I doubted was the cornstarch. I knew that the recipe used some cornstarch to thicken things up, but I didn't realize until halfway through cooking just how much was called for. The original recipe called for nearly a 1/2 cup of cornstarch, which sounded absurd, so I only used 3/4 of that amount. To my utter surprise, it actually worked, but I'm still recommending a smaller amount.
Other than that, this stew is kind of a miracle. Potatoes and cauliflower add the most body here, and the ground lamb helps lend a little meaty punch to each bite. At the end, it looks like it will be too heavy and thick, but then you pour some lemon juice to cut right through everything.
- Yield:4 to 6 people
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 10 ounces pearl onions, peeled and trimmed
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1-inch florets
- 3 stalks celery, peeled, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 pound waxy potatoes (about 6 small), peeled and quartered
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add pearl onions and cook until lightly brown, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to high and add lamb. Break meat up with wooden spoon, and cook until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
Add cauliflower, celery, potatoes, salt, and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are completely tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove about 1/4 cup of broth from the pot and place in a bowl. Let it cool for a few minutes, and then whisk in cornstarch. Stir this mixture into the pot. Then turn the heat to medium-high and cook until simmering and thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley off heat, season with black pepper and more salt if necessary, and serve.