A big pot of bubbly strew makes the most comforting supper on a cold January day. If you’d rather not cover the top with peeled potatoes serve champ or colcannon separately. Let me tell you they smack their lips in France at the mere mention of a great big bubbling stew and now these gutsy, comforting pots are appearing on many of the smartest restaurant menus.


4 lb (1.8kg) gigot or rack chops from the shoulder of lamb not less than 2.5cm (1 inch thick)
12 ozs (350g) green streaky bacon (blanch if salty)
seasoned white flour, preferably unbleached
a little butter or oil for sautéing
1 lb (450g) onions, (baby ones are nicest)
12 ozs (350g) carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
1 3/4 pints (750ml) approx. lamb or chicken stock
8-12 ‘old’ potatoes (optional)
sprig of thyme
roux – (optional) Mushroom a la Crème (optional)


2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley


Cut the rind off bacon and cut into approx. 1/2 inch (1cm) cubes blanch if salty and dry in kitchen paper. Divide the lamb into 8 pieces and roll in seasoned flour. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and sauté the bacon until crisp, remove and put in a casserole. Add the lamb to the pan and sauté until golden then add to the bacon in the casserole. Heat control is crucial here, the pan mustn’t burn yet it must be hot enough to sauté the lamb. If it is cool the lamb will stew rather than sauté and as a result the meat may be tough. Then quickly sauté the onions and carrots, adding a little butter if necessary, and put them into the casserole. De-grease the sauté pan and de-glaze with the stock, bring to the boil, pour over the lamb.

Cover the top of the stew with peeled potatoes (if using) and season well. Add a sprig of thyme and bring to simmering point on top of the stove, cover the pot and then put into the oven for 45-60 minutes, 180C/350F. Cooking time depends on how long the lamb was sautéed for.

When the casserole is just cooked, strain off the cooking liquid, de-grease and return de-greased liquid to the casserole and bring to the boil. Thicken with a little roux if necessary. Add back in the meat, carrots, onions and potatoes, bring back to the boil.The casserole is very good served at this point, but it’s even more delicious if some Mushroom a la Crème is stirred in as an enrichment. Serve bubbling hot sprinkled with chopped parsley.