Lamb Loin Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Butter Beans
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Mike Neuffer, a successful third-generation homebuilder from Reno, Nevada, who’s had a lifelong passion for wine and describes himself as” a part-time cellar rat,” just felt like he was home when he first discovered the Walla Walla Valley in 2000. He bought the parcel of land that would become Nicholas Cole Cellars in 2001, planted estate grapes, and waited for his first harvest in 2005. Meanwhile, assisted by mentor and friend Chris Camarda of Andrew Will Winery fame, the two used grapes from some of the best vineyards in the state to craft carefully blended, Bordeaux-style red wines.
Today, he makes award-winning wines under both the Nicholas Cole and GraEagle labels. The winemaker’s lamb stew—a toothsome, Mediterranean-leaning concoction of lamb, sun-dried tomatoes, and buttery-big beans—is one he has served at all of his Holiday Barrel Taste Weekends, although “stew” may be a bit of a misnomer, since it’s a refreshingly quick-cooking dish. Mike reports, “It has garnered rave reviews from my customers, some of whom have threatened bodily injury if I refuse to share the recipe with them. The second year I had it printed up and available upon request.” Serve with a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon and feel your body warm and spirits rise against the winter gloom.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 pound boneless lamb loin, trimmed and cut into 1/3-inch strips
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
10 sun-dried tomato halves packed in oil, drained and cut into thin strips (San Remo brand recommended)
1/2 cup chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, stacked and rolled like a cigar and cut into thin strips
1 15-ounce can butter beans, rinsed and drained
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened but not browned, 1 minute.
2. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the lamb and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook until browned on the outside but still pink within, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
3. Add two-thirds of the sun-dried tomatoes, the stock, and one-half of the basil and stir well. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
4. Add the beans, remaining sun-dried tomatoes, and remaining basil and stir well. Cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Ladle the stew into 4 bowls, garnish with the fresh basil leaves, and serve.
Cook’s Hint: Mike suggests that rabbit, duck, beef, or venison can be substituted for the lamb in this dish; chicken and pork are too bland. Homemade lamb stock or store-bought veal demi-glace also work well in place of the chicken broth. The dish is wonderful to serve company when accompanied by crusty artisan bread and a simple green salad. To extend the stew to serve more than four people, serve it over egg noodles, plain rice, or couscous (in keeping with the Mediterranean flavors), or accompanied by new potatoes roasted with olive oil, garlic, and fresh rosemary.
Recipe reprinted from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (Wiley, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.