Have you ever checked the seasoning of a casserole only to find it tastes a bit flat and needs something to bring all the flavours together? Stir in 1–2 teaspoons of sherry vinegar to sharpen it, leave for 5 minutes, then taste again to check the balance of flavour. Try this simple oven-braised recipe, scented with rosemary.

Serves 4

        1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for browning the meat

        1 small red onion, chopped

        1 celery stick, chopped

        1 carrot, chopped

        1 fat garlic clove, sliced

        A sprig of rosemary

        500g lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2.5cm chunks

        ½ tbsp plain flour

        125ml red wine

        1–2 tsp sherry vinegar

1      Heat the oil in a large casserole pan and sauté the chopped onion, celery and carrot for 8–10 minutes until they start to soften and turn golden. Stir in the garlic and rosemary and cook for 1 minute. Scoop out and spoon into a large bowl.

2      Brown the meat – you can do this in two pans if you want to cook the meat more quickly. Put a frying pan and the casserole pan on the hob over a low–medium heat. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of oil into each pan and tip to swirl the oil over the bases. Add about six or seven pieces of meat to each pan and leave them to brown on one side for a good minute or so, then turn them over – if they’re not quite ready they’ll still be stuck to the pan. Keep browning until they’re all done, then spoon into the bowl with the vegetables.

3      Keep cooking the meat in batches, adding more oil as necessary, until you’ve browned it all. It’s important to keep the pan over a low–medium heat so the juices on the bottom don’t burn, otherwise the stew will taste bitter at the end.

4      Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas mark 2. Stir the flour into the pan and cook for 1–2 minutes until it starts to turn golden. Add the red wine and stir in, loosening any stuck bits on the base of the pan. Spoon the vegetable and meat mixture back into the pan then pour in enough hot water to just cover. Cover the pan with a lid and bring to a simmer. Transfer to the oven and cook for 2–2½ hours or until the meat is tender. Check every 40 minutes or so to make sure there’s enough liquid covering the meat. Stir in the vinegar, check the seasoning and serve with creamy mash.


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