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What's for Dinner: Lamb Stew with Butternut Squash

Food 52's Merrill Stubbs shares a freezer-friendly recipe

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There’s no question the food movement of the moment is farm-to-table dining, but we’re more impressed by the modern miracle that is refrigeration (milk that lasts for a week!).

So when Merrill Stubbs, co-founder of Food52, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained cook, and mom to 1-year-old Clara, shared with us one of her go-to family dinners — and the recipe notes enthusiastically labeled it “freezer-friendly” — we knew dinner was served tonight and tomorrow.

I’m less spontaneous than I used to be about cooking because of the requisite planning ahead, but I think I value the food we eat at home more because I carve out the time to make it more consciously than I used to. And dinners out are, of course, more of a treat than they used to be, because they’re far less frequent.

Lamb Stew with Butternut Squash
Serves six

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1½ lb. cubed lamb shoulder (1-inch cubes)
1 md. onion, chopped
¾ c. roughly chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, chopped
28 oz. chopped tomatoes
2 c. beef stock
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 c. cubed butternut squash (½-inch cubes)
Salt (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 325°. In a heavy, ovenproof Dutch oven or saucepot with a tight-fitting lid, heat 1 tbsp. of oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the lamb with salt if using and when the oil is hot, brown half the cubes on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the lamb to a plate with a slotted spoon and add more oil to the pot if necessary. Brown the rest of the lamb and then remove that from the pot as well.

2. Turn down the heat to medium-low and add the onions, carrots, and garlic to the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. (Don’t let the garlic brown.)

3. Add the chopped tomatoes, stock, herbs, and the browned lamb, along with any lamb juices that have accumulated on the plate. Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to get all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.

4. When the stew comes to a boil, cover the pot and put it in the oven. Cook until the lamb is just tender, 2 to 3 hours.

5. Stir the butternut squash into the stew, re-cover it, and return the pot to the oven until the squash and lamb are fork-tender, another 20 to 25 minutes. Season to taste before serving — and make sure to cool the stew a little before feeding it to your baby.

Find more dinnertime inspiration at food52.com.

Photo: James Ransom / Courtesy of Food52