Strip the fat from the lamb, and wash and dry the meat. Sprinkle it with the black pepper.
Gently heat the butter in a Dutch oven. When the butter begins to bubble, add the lamb, being careful not to crowd the pieces, and brown on all sides. The flavor and deep reddish-brown color of the stew depends on thorough and careful browning. Remove the browned lamb and set it aside.
Add the onion, fennel seeds, celery, carrots, bay leaves, orange peel, and cinnamon to the Dutch oven. Toss them well in the fat with a wooden spoon so the vegetables are coated. Then bury the quartered fennel in the vegetables and layer the browned lamb over the vegetables.
Add the wine, 6 cups of water, tomatoes, stock, and pepper flakes and increase the heat. When the stew begins to boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Skim off and discard the foam that rises to the surface for the first 15 minutes.
Keep the pot covered and simmer the stew for 2 hours, making sure that the meat is always covered by the liquid. Add water if necessary.
Cook the pasta al dente, drain well, and return to the kettle with one teaspoon olive oil. Shake thoroughly and set aside covered. Do this during the last 15 minutes of stewing so that they finish together.
Meanwhile, stir the ground almonds, cracker meal, and chocolate into the stew. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, tossing the stew about from time to time, as the sauce begins to thicken.
Remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Discard the bay leaves. Carefully skim off and discard the fat that has risen to the surface of the pot. (Garry writes that Oprah should cherish this step). Optional: remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones.
Empty the steaming pasta into the Dutch oven of stew, toss them about well, and salt to taste.
Arrange the dish on a large, deep pasta platter and serve hot with freshly grated Pecorino or Romano (sheep) cheese.
Yield: 6 servings
Sheep's Creek Farm Lamb Recipes page.
© 1998 Ronald Florence
Last modified: 12-Dec-2001 14:05:48 EST
© 1998 Ronald Florence Last modified: 12-Dec-2001 14:05:48 EST