Navarin of Lamb

Navarin d’Agneau [Navarin of Lamb] is a very old French dish, and typical of the haute cuisine that evolved out of traditional peasant kitchens. The word ‘navarin’ derives from ‘navet’, meaning a turnip, and thus pays tribute to its sturdy, down-to-earth origins. In broad terms it is simply a lamb and vegetable ragoût, and there are probably as many recipes for it as there are kitchens in France. I am not sure that Escoffier would approve of my version, but I suspect that this may be closer to the farmhouse recipe than the presentation at the Ritz.


¼ cup olive oil.

1kg diced lean hogget.

2 tablespoons flour.

½ teaspoon nutmeg.

Salt and pepper to taste.

1 cup cider.

3 large cloves of garlic, crushed.

1 tblsp balsamic vinegar.

Bouquet garni.

40g butter.

1 leek, sliced.

1 onion, sliced.

1 good stick celery, chopped.

1 good sprig fresh mint.

1 cup frozen beans

Zest of a lemon.



Heat the oil in a sauté pan over a hot flame. Brown the meat all over and sprinkle with the flour. Toss well, add the nutmeg, salt, pepper and cider. Sauté until the liquid is reduced by half, then add the garlic, vinegar, bouquet garni and the water. Stir well, bring to the boil again, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook gently for 1 ½ hours. 

Heat the butter in a heavy skillet over a hot flame. Fry the leek, onion and celery until beginning to brown and add to the meat. Stir through and add a little more water if needed. Simmer for another 20 minutes then add the mint, beans and zest. Cook for another 5 minutes then remove the mint and the bouquet garni. Serve immediately. 

Serves 4-6.

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