Friday, 18 September 2009

Autumn Stews from France - Navarin

The word “stew” comes from the old French word estuier, meaning to enclose. The line between stew and soup is a fine one, but generally a stew's ingredients are cut in larger pieces and retain some of their individual flavours, a stew may have thicker broth, and a stew is more likely to be eaten as a main course than as a starter. The difference between a stew and a casserole is that stews are cooked typically over a fire or a hob and casseroles are done in the oven.

Navarin is a French stew of lamb or mutton with root vegetables and in the Spring time fresh young vegetables are added, making it Navarin Printanier. There is a debate about the origin of the name of the stew – some think it relates to the 1827 Battle of Navarino in the Ionian Sea, in which an Ottoman and Egyptian armada was crushed by a British, Russian, and French force. However Navarin probably refers to the stew's traditional inclusion of turnips - navet, in French – and as mention of the stew Navarin is made in the 17th century this is the more likely origin.


1 kg/2 lb of boneless lamb shoulder
30g/1 oz of butter
2 tbsp olive oil
6 baby onions or shallots
2 cloves of garlic , crushed
4 carrots, cut in half
4 small parsnips, cut in half
6 baby turnips
2 stalks of celery, chopped
10 small potatoes
12 fresh green beans
¼ cup of flour
2 tbsp of tomato paste
2 tbsp of Dijon mustard
2 cups of beef or chicken stock
1 bouquet garni (small bunch of fresh herbs, thyme, parsley and bay leaf)
¼ cup of fresh chopped parsley

Trim the meat, remove any excess fat and cut into small cubes. Heat the butter and oil in a pan and sauté the meat until well browned. Remove, drain and set aside. In the remaining butter sauté the onions until golden. Add the garlic, chopped carrot, parsnip, turnip and celery and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and then add the tomato purée and mustard. Return the meat to the saucepan and add the potatoes and bouquet garni. Pour the stock over and mix thoroughly. Bring to the boil and simmer covered for 1 hour. Add the green beans and cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes. The meat should be lovely and tender and the sauce thick. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread.

I would recommend Chateau Clerc Milon from Pauillac as a good wine to pair with your Navarin. Clerc Milon is owned by Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and sits just between the First Growths Château Mouton Rothschild and Château Lafite Rothschild. The château takes its name from the small village of Milon in the north western corner of Pauillac. Clerc comes from Jean Baptiste Clerc who owned the Château in the 19th century. Centuries ago the Château was somewhat of an obscurity despite being in a prime location and having superb terroir. However in 1970, the Baron Philippe de Rothschild purchased the property and began a complete renovation of the vineyards and the cellars.

The wines of Clerc Milon are firm , dense and well structured due to the high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon used to make them. They have nutty, fruity oak on the nose and palate with hints of cranberry and black currant.

Another Chateau that has been restored and its wines rejuvenated is Chateau Sociando Mallet in the Haut Medoc. Sociando Mallet's vineyards lie in the commune of Saint Seurin de Cadourne on the Left Bank, north of Saint Estèphe. The Château was purchased in 1969 by Jean Gautreau, a négociant from Lesparre, who has opted to remain out of the classification system. When Gautreau bought Sociando Mallet it was a forgotten and derelict property of vastly reduced land. However the terroir is the same band of gravel that runs beneath the vines of Château Latour and Gautreau saw the potential that others had not. The Château has benefited from 4 decades of investment and improvement and the wines have been the insider's choice for top quality wines.

Sociando Mallet's inky purple wines have an unusual capacity for longevity and are one of the longest lived wines made in the Médoc. They are powerful, full bodied, tannic and rich. They are fragrant and have notes of blackberries, raspberries, blossom blueberries and wood.

Next I would choose a Saint Emilion – a wine to look out for is Château La Tour du Pin – that's an insider's tip. It's competitively priced at around £20 a bottle but that will change as it gathers status. La Tour du Pin originated from the estate of Château Figeac in 1876 and was acquired by M. G. Bélivier in 1923, who then transferred it to M. Giraud Lucien in 1972. It was bought by the First Growth Grand Cru Classé A Château Cheval Blanc in 2006. The wine of La Tour du Pin is a deep red with a purplish tint. The bouquet is fresh, complex and intense with a nicely integrated woody touch. The wine has notes of cherries, strawberries, blossom and raspberries. The attack is full and smooth leading into a silky tannic structure with a fresh edge highlighting the fruity quality of the finish.

Another great wine is Chateau Chadeuil4.75) which is made on part of an estate that has been famous for centuries. The vineyard is set up high on a south facing plateau and this exceptional position gives the grapes excellent ripeness. The Musset family has been on this estate for several generations. Serge Musset took over in 1966 and the wine making process is carried out by Dominique Hébrard. The result is a wine which has lots of finesse and all the characteristics of a great Bordeaux: well balanced tannins marked by the expressive fruitiness of the terroir.

The Hébrard family's involvement with wine goes all the way back to 1832 when it bought the prestigious Château Cheval Blanc which was sold 165 years later. Dominique is also the wine maker for Chateau Belfont Belcier which is a fabulous St Emilion Grande Cru Classe wine which has recently been upgraded in the Classification system. Chadeuil is a cracking Merlot-based claret with delicious blackcherry and blackberry fruit, lifted with a hint of moch and vanilla. It's supple, lithe and incredible value.


1 comment:

Joeshico said...

Really love the recipes you give and learned much about the different game birds over the past few months, but this recipe sounds the best.
My wife makes a similar Assyrian stew with chicken, but has never made a stew with lamb. Will have to give it a try. I also have found a few Claret and Meritage wines I think will pair very well. For now I'll put this one away and wait for a nice cold winter weekend
to put it to the test.