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This stew is somehow hearty but not heavy at the same time. The rich flavor of lamb is complemented by the bright anise flavor of the fennel and the sweet-tart citrus. Serve this over polenta or a heaping scoop of mashed potatoes (also think about Herbed Mashed Potatoes or Baked Mashed Potatoes).

There’s not a ton of prep for this lovely Mediterranean stew, just slicing up a couple of fennel bulbs and some shallots and then smashing a handful of garlic cloves. Easy peasy, and then when the meat is done browning, the vegetables can go right into the pot.

If you are a person who thinks lamb might be intimidating to cook, a) nope, and b) if you’re just getting started with lamb at home, start with stew because (like a beef stew) the only secret is to cook the meat low and slow until it is meltingly tender. Lamb has a terrific depth of flavor and tastes like something special. For this stew recipe, use leg or shoulder meat, any part of the lamb that requires a long low simmer to become meltingly tender and flavorful.

Lamb Stew with White Wine, Orange and Fennel in a white bowl.

As the holidays roll towards us like lava — kind of fast, kind of slow, but definitely approaching — we tend to focus hard on some of the big holiday meals. But there are also times when we have some guests over, maybe just some extended family, and it’s not a “Big Holiday Meal” night, but rather a “Let’s Do Something a Little Festive But Also Very Homey” night. That’s a night for lamb stew.

Lamb Stew with White Wine, Orange and Fennel: Flavorful and so easy to make—the perfect intersection between comfort food and something special.

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Red pot filled with Lamb Stew with White Wine, Orange and Fennel with white bowls stacked nearby.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil 
  • Lamb shoulder – Cut into 1 ½-inch pieces.
  • Fennel – Two bulbs quartered and thinly sliced or chopped.
  • Shallots – Adds a sweet oniony flavor.
  • Garlic – You’ll use whole cloves, crushed, to impart a delicate garlicky flavor.
  • All-purpose flour – Helps thicken the sauce.
  • Ground coriander – An herb that is bright and earthy at the same time.
  • Cumin – Adds more of a deep, earthy flavor.
  • White wine – Please use a dry white wine here, not a particularly fruity or buttery one. Think about Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or another dry French or Italian wine.
  • Crushed tomatoes – The base of the sauce.
  • Bay leaves – Adds slight herbal, almost tea-like note.
  • Oranges – Both the zest and the juice are used here, adding a sweet tart flavor.
Woman scooping lamb stew over mashed potatoes in a white bowl.

For the Croutons With Shortcut Roasted Pepper Olive Aioli (Optional)

The croutons, or crostini, that go with this stew are not essential, BUT if you are looking to impress, they are absolutely the way to go. True aioli is a homemade garlicky mayonnaise sauce made from scratch with egg yolks and oil, and often other seasonings as well.

But in my house, starting with a jar of good mayo is usually the reality of the situation, and when you doctor up this mayo, it adds quite a sultry little finishing touch to all sorts of dishes. In this case, black olives, roasted red peppers, and some other salty additions contrast with the richness of the lamb stew and give the whole dish a bit of pop.

  • Anchovy – I promise you won’t taste anything “fishy”, but anchovies add a nice salty, umami flavor and deepen the flavor of the other ingredients.
  • Capers – Another salty, briny pop of flavor.
  • Minced garlic
  • Roasted red pepper – You can use store-bought or opt for homemade roasted peppers.
  • Chopped black olives
  • Mayonnaise – The base of this creamy condiment.
  • Baguette – Slices of toasted baguette topped with the aioli will add some different texture and interest to this lunch stew.
Lamb Stew with White Wine, Orange and Fennel in a bowl over mashed potatoes.

American Lamb

My people are big lamb fans. Charlie, in particular, lights up when he hears there’s lamb on the menu, and this stew made everyone extremely happy. I am more than pleased to say that I am partnering up with the American Lamb Board, which supports local farmers and ranchers throughout the U.S.

Did you know that there are more than 80,000 family-owned sheep farms and ranches in his country? And that lamb is responsibly raised and produced in every state? That was news to me. There’s lots to know about American lamb, and as you may know, if you are familiar with this blog, it’s a fan favorite at our table, and there will definitely be more to come.

Lamb Stew with White Wine, Orange and Fennel in a bowl.

Tips

  • If you can, start browning the lamb, and then use the browning time (you’ll want to do this in a few batches for maximum caramelization) to cut up the vegetables.
  • Not every side of the lamb pieces has to be browned, but make sure most of them are and that they have deep color on them. As you finish each batch, transfer it to a large plate or bowl.
  • The bottom of the pan should have lots of browned bits stuck to it after searing the meat, which is a very good thing. When you sauté the vegetables in a bit of oil in the pan, you’ll start to scrape up those little bits of caramelized flavor, and then when the white wine hits the pan, it will release any leftover bits of deliciousness stuck to the bottom.
  • Add more water if the sauce seems to be evaporating too quickly or the stew begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • And when the meat is tender, you also have a couple of choices: keep it in chunks/cubes, which will be fork tender…or take advantage of the fall-apart tenderness and use a couple of forks to slightly shred the meat into the sauce so it’s almost a ragu-like stew. No wrong decisions here, gang.
Woman spooning red pepper aioli onto a crostini.

How to Make Lamb Stew with White Wine

  1. Brown the lamb: Cook the lamb in batches, about 8 minutes per batch, seasoning with salt and pepper.
  2. Sauté the vegetables: Add the fennel, shallots, and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes until everything has started to soften and turned a bit golden. Stir in the flour and spices. Return the lamb to the pot and stir to coat.
  3. Simmer the stew: Add the wine and stir to help any browned bits to release from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves and water. Bring to a simmer, then cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 to 2 ½ hours, until the sauce is quite thick and the meat is falling apart tender.
  4. Make the croutons (if desired): Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the baguette slices with olive oil and bake for about 4 minutes until golden.
  5. Make the aioli (if desired): In a small food processor, combine the black olives, anchovy, capers, garlic, and peppers. Blend in the mayonnaise.
  6. Finish the stew: Stir in the orange juice and half of the zest.
  7. Serve: Serve the stew in bowls with some of the aioli spooned onto the croutons and tucked alongside the stew. Sprinkle over the remaining orange zest.
Red pepper aioli in a bowl.

What to Serve With Lamb Stew

You can serve this over mashed potatoes, boiled or steamed potatoes, a thick base layer of rice, or even over something like couscous for a nice twist. Pretty much any starch is your friend here. It’s nice to have something to soak up this very thick and savory sauce. Three Cheese and Prosciutto Stuffed Biscuits would be decadent and delicious.

Fork spearing a piece of lamb stew from a bowl.

More Lamb Recipes

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Lamb Stew with White Wine, Orange, and Fennel

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 1 hour
Cook: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8 People
The perfect intersection between comfort food and something special.

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 4 pounds American lamb shoulder (cut into 1 ½-inch pieces)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 large fennel bulbs (quartered and thinly sliced, or chopped)
  • 3 shallots (thinly sliced)
  • 6 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • Zest and juice of 2 oranges

For the Croutons with Shortcut Roasted Pepper Olive Aioli (Optional)

  • 1 anchovy (rinsed)
  • 1 teaspoon capers (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted red pepper (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped black olives
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 16 slices of baguette
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Thyme sprigs (to serve)

Instructions 

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot, such as enameled cast iron, over medium high heat. In small batches, so the meat isn’t crowded in the pan, brown the lamb, about 8 minutes per batch, seasoning with salt and pepper. Not every side has to be browned, but make sure most of them are, and that they have deep color on them. As you finish each batch, transfer it to a large plate or bowl.
  • Drain off any excess fat, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and return the pot to medium-low heat. Add the fennel, shallots and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes until everything has started to soften and turn a bit golden. Stir in the flour, coriander and cumin, until everything is well blended and you can smell the spices, about 2 minutes. Return the lamb to the pot, and stir to coat the lamb with the seasoned vegetable mixture.
  • Add the wine and stir to help any browned bits to release from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and water, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium, low, making sure the mixture stays at a soft but steady simmer. Simmer and stir occasionally for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the sauce is quite thick and the meat is falling apart tender – add more water if the sauce seems to be evaporating too quickly or the stew begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • If you wish to make the croutons while the stew is cooking, preheat the oven to 375 F. Brush the baguette slices with the 2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt, and place on a baking sheet. Toast for about 4 minutes until just starting to turn golden. Remove and transfer to a place on a plate.
  • In a small food processor, combine the black olives, anchovy, capers, garlic, and peppers. Add the mayonnaise and process until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
  • When the stew has finished cooking, taste and add salt and pepper as needed, then stir in the orange juice and half of the zest. Serve the stew in individual bowls, with some of the aioli spooned onto the croutons and tucked alongside the stew. Sprinkle the remaining orange zest over the tops of the bowls, and lay a little sprig of thyme or two over the top if you are going for a little showy presentation.

Notes

  • You can use the browning time to cut up the vegetables.
  • Not every side of the lamb pieces has to be browned, but make sure most of them are and that they have deep color on them. As you finish each batch, transfer it to a large plate or bowl.
  • The bottom of the pan should have lots of browned bits stuck to it after searing the meat. When the white wine hits the pan, it will release any leftover bits of deliciousness stick to the bottom.
  • Add more water if the sauce seems to be evaporating too quickly or the stew begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • When the meat is tender, you can keep it in chunks/cubes, which will be fork tender…or use a couple of forks to slightly shred the meat into the sauce so it’s almost a ragu-like stew.

Nutrition

Calories: 709.42kcal, Carbohydrates: 43.68g, Protein: 36.17g, Fat: 38.05g, Saturated Fat: 7.49g, Cholesterol: 103.5mg, Sodium: 781.34mg, Potassium: 827.42mg, Fiber: 4.36g, Sugar: 2.41g, Vitamin A: 128.41IU, Vitamin C: 14.39mg, Calcium: 121.46mg, Iron: 5.52mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Comments

  1. This is amazing. Just finished eating! Followed recipe to a tee..skipped croutons and served over couscous with a jar a French cut green beans that didn’t seal while canning! While cooking and tasting it was great —but adding that orange at the end takes it to a whole new level! Wouldn’t skip or substitute there! Thank you!

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