Lamb and Shell Bean Stew 6.000
Groundwork Oct 26, 2010

The aroma from this stew is intoxicating. Removing the shell from the beans takes a bit of effort, but it is worth it. Preparation time will be longer if you cannot find the beans already shelled. The difference in taste between canned and fresh beans is dramatic, although canned beans can be used; make sure the canned ones are drained and rinsed to eliminate some of the sodium. Also, to brighten the "canned" flavor, add the juice from a half of a lemon.

This stew can be made for vegetarians by substituting cubes of winter squash for the lamb. Cooking time of course would be reduced; probably to 30 minutes total. Try peeled cushaw, butternut or delicata squash.

Make Ahead: The stew can be made and refrigerated a day in advance. Reheat on the stove over low heat.

Servings: 6
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, or more as needed
  • 1 3/4 pounds boneless boneless lamb shoulder trimmed of excess fat, then cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onion, chopped (2 cups)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (substitute more beef broth if wine is to be omitted)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh shell beans (any type available; see headnote)


Heat a large pot over medium-high heat; add the oil, then the lamb chunks. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring, until the lamb is browned on all sides, then transfer the lamb to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Check the pot and add oil as needed, then add the onion and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, then stir in the garlic, rosemary and bay leaves. Cook for slightly less than 1 minute. Add the wine; use a wooden spoon to stir and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Once the wine starts bubbling at the edges, stir in the mustard, broth, tomato, carrot and mint.

Return the lamb chunks to the pot along with any accumulated juices. Once the mixture starts bubbling again, cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the meat is absolutely tender.

While the lamb and herb mixture is cooking, place the beans in a small saucepan. Barely cover with fresh water and cook over medium-low heat until the beans are tender; this could take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the age of the beans.

Drain the beans and add them to the lamb and herb mixture. Cook for at least 10 minutes to allow the beans to soak up some of the flavor. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Discard the bay leaves.

Serve warm.

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Recipe Source

From Smithsonian Garden education specialist Cynthia A. Brown.

Tested by Cynthia A. Brown.

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