Winter is the perfect time to channel your inner Julia Child! Imagine your kitchen filled with the aromas of red wine, lamb, rosemary, and thyme slowly simmering away on the the stove top. If you really want to recreate your favorite French bistro meal in the comfort of your home, you’ll want to make my Herbed Lamb and White Bean Ragout. The original recipe came from my cookbook Pamela Morgan’s Flavors. We retested the recipe this summer to bring you an even better version. I promise you, my new ragout is divine.
Ragout (not ragù, the Italian meat-based sauce) is a slow-cooked French-style stew that’s often made with meat or fish and vegetables. It’s usually accompanied by a starch, whether that’s rice, pasta, couscous, or polenta. This dish is nothing short of decadent and comforting with tender pieces of lamb, creamy cannellini beans, juicy olives and hearty bites of carrot. Take a breather and immerse yourself in the beauty of French home cooking for the night. My ragout is exactly what you’ll want on a chilly winter day, paired with a glass of your favorite red wine of course!
If you’re a fan of making soups and stews, I highly recommend getting a good quality dutch oven or enamel-coated cast iron pot like those from Le Creuset. My Le Creuset is my best friend in the kitchen! The best part about making a stew on a Sunday or at the beginning of the week is that this dish only gets better by the day. All of the flavors come together and it’ll be the gift that keeps on giving. So, put on your favorite playlist, leave your phone in the other room (after you write down the recipe of course 😁) and get in the cooking mood! 🍷🥘
- 1 ½ cups (about 10 ounces) dried small beans, such as flageolets, cannellini or baby limas, picked over
- 3 pounds lamb, preferably shoulder, cut into well-trimmed 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup dry red wine
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons herbes de Provence, crumbled
- 2 bay leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ½ cups diced (½-inch) carrot (about 5 medium)
- 2 cups chopped yellow onion
- 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, crushed, with their juices
- 2 ½ cups chicken stock or canned beef broth, plus extra stock for thinning
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¾ cup drained Niçoise olives
- ½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 3 tablespoons minced mixed fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and oregano
- In a medium bowl, cover the beans with cold water. Let soak for at least 4 hours or overnight for convenience.
- In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine the lamb, wine, vinegar, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the herbes de Provence, bay leaves and a generous grinding of pepper. Cover and marinate at room temperature, stirring once or twice, for 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature if chilled.
- Meanwhile, drain the beans. In a medium pan, cover them with fresh cold water. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Tightly cover and lower the heat until the beans simmer gently. Cook until just tender, 40 to 50 minutes (bean cooking times vary widely; add boiling water as needed and continue to simmer until tender). Drain.
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
- With a slotted spoon, lift the lamb from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Pat the lamb dry with paper towels. Set a large, heavy 5 ½-quart ovenproof pan (such as a Dutch oven or a covered flameproof casserole) over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, and when it is hot, working in 4 or 5 batches to avoid crowding the pan, brown the lamb well on all sides, about 7 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned lamb to a bowl. Add additional olive oil to the pan by tablespoons as necessary to prevent sticking.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the pan. Stir in the carrot and onion. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the browned bits from the bottom, for 7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook uncovered without browning the flour, stirring once or twice, for 3 minutes. Add the browned lamb, reserved marinade, crushed tomatoes, stock, salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper. Cover and bring to a simmer.
- Set the pan in the oven and bake, stirring occasionally and regulating the oven temperature if necessary to maintain the stew at a moderate simmer, for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 45 minutes. Stir in the beans and bake until the stew is thick and the meat and beans are tender, another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. (The stew can be prepared to this point up to 2 days in advance. Cool completely, cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat, stirring occasionally, until steaming. Thin the stew with additional stock only after it is hot). Stir in the olives, parsley and mixed herbs. Cover and let stand 1 minute. Adjust the seasoning. Serve hot, on heated plates.
I can’t wait for you all to try this recipe! I hope it brings you just as much joy to make it as it does to eat it. I know we all wish we could be eating at our favorite restaurants right now, but when the weather gets too unbearable to sit outside, I say it’s time to put your apron on and start cooking!