2 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil
3 pounds boneless lamb stew meat, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped celery
10 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 cup peeled whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped (canned is fine)
8 cups chicken stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Combine the beans and 8 cups cold water in a large saucepan or soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and remove from the heat. Let sit for 1 hour. Drain the beans in a colander and discard the soaking liquid. Set the beans aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Meanwhile, heat the bacon fat in a large Dutch oven. Season the lamb with the salt and pepper and cook the lamb in batches until very brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a bowl and set aside. Add the onions, celery, thyme, bay leaves, and Essence and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the vegetables are soft, 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock and return the meat to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.
Add the beans to the pot...
...and continue cooking until the beans are tender but not mushy, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The cooking liquid should be slightly thickened, just enough to coat the beans and lamb. (If the sauce seems too thin, remove the meat and beans with a slotted spoon and cook until the liquid has reduced and is slightly thickened. Alternatively, if the cooking liquid has reduced too much, add a bit of water.) Add the green onions and parsley, taste, and season if necessary with additional salt and pepper.
Transfer the bean mixture to a 9 by 13-inch casserole and top with the bread crumbs and Parmesan. Drizzle the top with the olive oil and bake, uncovered, until the casserole is golden brown on top and bubbly around the edges, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.
Copyright © 2006 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved
Hi Guys--it's me, Annie, with comments. I didn't use the Essence, the thyme or the bay leaves and about 2/3 of my beans were Great Northern while 1/3 were baby lima beans. the llmas were a little tougher after all was said and done, so when I do this again it will be all Great Northerns.
In addition, although Em calls for boneless lamb stew meat, I went with half bone-in. Boneless is darned expensive and not always available, while lamb neckbone is half the price and easily available in any supermarket. (My local Hannaford's treats lamb like a variety cut, but that's another problem.)
It is true that boneless lamb will provide you with a smooth eating experience during which you will not have to take anything out of your mouth and place it under the edge of your plate, but necckbone (which actually means meat with bone, not just bone itself) will provide more fat for better browning, plus "crispy bits" which will make the finished casserole tastier, more texturally interesting, and richer-tasting. In addition, the bones and their connecive tissue will give the finished product a more unctuous, smoother taste.
Also, if you are using a cast-iron dutch oven (absolutely the best way to go with this recipe), heat it slowly (over medium, let's say) for ten minutes and then start adding ingredients. The meat will sear and brown much faster.