Lamb Fricassee may not be gorgeous to look at, but it’s absolutely gorgeous to eat. Tender braised lamb shoulder is slow cooked with dill, parsley, spring onions, then finished off with avgolemono (egg and lemon) sauce. It’s a perfect Greek comfort dish just made for winter months.
Lamb or Avgolemono feature in many Greek dishes: cabbage rolls; Easter soup; meatballs. These are the dishes that were a constant in my childhood, and it’s those memories of melt in your mouth lamb coated with a tangy, creamy avgolemono sauce that l draw on when l make Lamb Fricassee.
Lamb shoulder is the cut of choice for this dish. These are my tips for preparing your lamb.
- buy a deboned lamb shoulder; it will make life a lot easier
- cut away any excess fat from the lamb
- cut the lamb into 6 cm / 2.5″ x 6 cm / 2.5″ portions. The bigger the portion, the longer it will take to cook.
You’ll be surprised by how many greens there are in Lamb Fricassee. Let’s start with the herbs. Dill, parsley and spring onions are what give the stock (liquid that meat is simmered in) its flavour, and add a greater depth to the egg and lemon sauce.
Once the lamb is just about ready, you add lettuce, preferably cos, to the pot and let it simmer for a few minutes. While it sounds odd to add lettuce to a stew, the cos is as integral to the dish as the lamb, and when cooked down it adds body and a subtle sweetness to this otherwise rich stew.
Egg & Lemon sauce
Egg & Lemon Sauce (Avgolemono) gives dishes a unique creamy texture and lemony flavour. All you need to do is whisk the eggs with the lemon juice, then add the stock. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the most common problem is that the stock is added when it’s too hot and you end up with scrambled eggs instead of a smooth sauce. This can be prevented by following these tips.
- have eggs at room temperature
- use egg yolks only. Without egg whites, there is less chance of curdling (but you still need to be careful).
- allow the stock to cool before adding it to the egg and lemon mixture. I pour about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of stock from the pot into a jug and allow it to stand until it cools before adding it to the egg and lemon mixture.
- add the stock in a slow, thin stream
- whisk vigorously when adding the stock
More recently, l have been adding cornstarch / cornflour at the very end of the cooking process if l want a thicker, creamier sauce (see egg & lemon sauce for instructions).
Lamb Fricassee isn’t the prettiest dish l’ve ever photographed, but it is one of the most hearty and satisfying, especially on a cold winter’s day.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours
- 1 kg / 2lbs lamb shoulder, deboned (note 1)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 litre / 2 pints warm water
- 1 vegetable bouillon / stock cube (note 2)
- 4 sprigs parsley
- 4 sprigs dill plus 2 sprigs finely chopped
- 6 shallots separated into 2 bunches of 3 (note 3)
- 1 -2 baby cos lettuce (note 4)
Egg and lemon Sauce
- 3 egg yolks (note 5)
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 cups of stock
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- optional: 2 tsp cornstarch / cornflour
- Add 1 tbsp oil to a medium sized pot over medium – high heat. Place lamb in pot and saute until golden on all sides. You may need to do this in batches.
- Dissolve the bouillon / stock cube in warm water. Pour into pot with lamb. The water should barely cover the lamb.
- Add the shallots, parsley and 4 sprigs of dill. Turn heat down to medium, cover pot with lid and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until lamb is tender.
- Remove herbs from pot (l tend to leave them in).
- Turn heat down to medium low. Add the cos lettuce and shallots. Cook until they begin to wilt (roughly 2 minutes).
- Remove pot from heat. Place 2 cups of the stock (liquid from the pot) into a measuring cup (note 6). Allow to cool (about 10 minutes).
The Egg & Lemon Sauce
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, salt, pepper and lemon juice until completely combined.
- Add the stock in a thin slow stream while continuously whisking vigorously.
- Pour mixture into pot with lamb and greens. Stir carefully.
- Optional: To thicken your sauce, add 2 tsp of cornstarch / cornflour to a small cup. Add about 2 tbsp of egg and lemon sauce from pot and stir until you have a thin paste. Pour back into pot. Stir it through and simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- Have a taste. Add salt and pepper if required.
- Ladle into bowls. Scatter chopped dill over the stew and enjoy with some crusty bread.
- My deboned lamb shoulder comes rolled up and tied with string. Once unrolled, l trim away fatty bits and cut into 6 cm / 2.5″ x 6 cm / 2.5″ portions. You can cut them into smaller portions if you wish. Larger portions will take longer to cook.
- Vegetable stock will add a little more flavour to the dish. It’s not imperative and l often forget and just add water.
- Trim the ends of the shallots (see photo). I use 3 shallots to flavour the stock. Towards the end of the cooking process, l add another 3 shallots to the stew along with the cos lettuce.
- Slice the cos lettuce lengthwise into quarters (that’s what l do) or chop into smaller pieces.
- I use my leftover egg whites to make an egg white omelette for breakfast. Delicious!
- Placing the stock into another container helps it to cool down faster.