Tahoe-Truckee recipe: Artichoke lamb stew — on the wood stove
TRUCKEE, Calif. — First of all, before you get all sour grapes on me with, “Sure, I don’t have a wood stove anymore,” let me assure you this fantastic stew can be made on your standard kitchen stove top.
No need to get worked up about the Truckee-Tahoe wood stove police who banned your lovely Franklin despite the fact you had removed the front doors during your home inspection and claimed it was a fireplace.
Sure, we all miss the days when our primary source of heat and comfort was the wood stove, but we have our memories and some Polaroids, right? Not enough? Well, now I give you this: a gem of a cookbook, written by Tom and Laurel Lippert called “The Woodstove Cookerybook.”
While the book was published to much acclaim in 1980 with write-ups in, among others, the San Francisco Chronicle and Sierra Sun, it only recently came to may attention.
Apparently I am the last in the foodie kingdom to make this discovery, because when I started waving my new find around to my friends, those who had been in Truckee-Tahoe for decades, they all went directly into their kitchens, brought it out, slapped it down and thumbed to his or her favorite recipe.
For this column, I decided to go right to the source and met with the authors themselves for one of their picks to feature. Laurel and Tom are a cool couple. Besides co-authoring “The Woodstove Cookerybook,” both are pilots, Laurel also wrote “You Can Fly!” and Tom, who is a professional photographer, took the photos for that book.
They are amazing cooks; they ski, golf and have a killer home; and they are happily married (to each other) forever — but I like them anyway.
They recommended I go with “Patty’s Artichoke Lamb Stew.” This I did, both on my wood stove and then on my gas range, following exactly the same preparation from the recipe for both. Very, very good. Makes me think I should try it a third way, in the Crock Pot, once lamb goes on sale again.
People ask me all the time if I have “dozens” of cook books. The answer is, no. I find the newfangled cookbooks out there to be too overblown and impersonal. When I began singing the praises of my little “Woodstove Cookerybook” two neighbors brought out similar intimate cookbooks written by family members and one from a sewing circle in a small Midwestern town.
They are precious and the recipes are the real deal — a dying art. So now I am on it — I am the new collector of collectible cookbooks of secret recipes. Thrift stores here I come! Of course it would make my life a lot easier, and this column really laminate-worthy (though it already is, ‘natch.) if you would share yours with me at “Simone Appetit.” Send ‘em over to email@example.com and include a little mention about the recipe’s humble beginnings.
As for getting your hands on “The Woodstove Cookerybook,” I’m waiting for a re-print so I can get a bunch for Christmas gifts. But, until then, you might find a copy on eBay or Amazon. Who knows? If cooking on your wood stove makes a resurgence, our local Franklin stove police may lighten up…
Patty’s Artichoke Lamb Stew ingredients:
3 pounds leg of lamb, trimmed, boneless and cut into 1 and 1/2 inch cubes (Have your butcher do this for you.)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, very finely chopped (1 and 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, minced or mashed
1 and 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dry thyme
2 tablespoons currant jelly
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
6 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
Season the meat very generously with salt and pepper. Put the oil in a cast iron Dutch oven. Add the meat, turning to coat each piece with the oil. Spread the onions over the meat. Stir together the next seven ingredients and pour over the onions. Cover and place on a trivet on the wood stove, or directly on your stove top, and cook over very low heat 2 hours. Do not stir.
Add the artichokes, submerging them in the liquid. Cover again and simmer for 45 minutes or until the meat and artichokes are tender. Just before serving, add the parsley, and very gently stir the stew to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your favorite family recipes and the story behind them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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