French Lamb Stew

Navarin d’Agneau

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Six


Appears in

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1969

  • About

This recipe for a French lamb stew is a classic illustration of how any meat stew is made. First, the meat is browned in oil. The meat should be browned well in the oil but only a few pieces at a time. The reason for this is simple. The browning process seals in the juices of the meat. If, however, the cubes of meat are close together, they do not brown well and all the juices of the meat run out into the skillet.

After the meat is browned, seasoning and liquid are added and the meat is cooked until tender. Tomatoes, which add flavor, are considered part of the liquid because of their high water content.

After the meat is done or nearly so, other vegetables are added and cooked until just tender.


  • tablespoons vegetable oil
  • tablespoons butter
  • 3 pounds lean lamb, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about medium onions)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 to 3 cups lamb broth or beef broth, fresh or canned
  • 1-pound-1-ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 12 small red-skin potatoes, peeled
  • 4 carrots, scraped and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 12 small white onions, peeled
  • 1 cup shelled green peas or 1 package frozen green peas


    1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

    2. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet and add a few pieces of lamb at a time. The heat should be moderately high. Using a two-pronged fork, turn the meat around in the fat without letting the cubes touch each other. Keep cooking and turning occasionally until all the cubes are brown. As they brown, transfer them to a large casserole or Dutch oven. Add more cubes to the skillet and continue cooking. When they are all browned, add the chopped onion to the skillet. Cook briefly just until onion wilts. Set the skillet aside.

    3. Sprinkle the browned meat with the sugar and place the casserole over moderate heat for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle the meat with flour, salt, and pepper and cook over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes longer.

    4. Add the broth to the skillet with the onions and bring to a boil, stirring with the wooden spoon to dissolve the brown particles on the bottom and sides of the skillet. Pour the broth mixture over the meat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to a boil on top of the stove.

    5. Cover the casserole and bake for 1½ hours or until the meat is tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to another baking dish. Strain the sauce into a 1-quart glass measuring cup. Skim off the fat that has risen to the top. Pour the remaining liquid over the meat and add the potatoes, carrots, and onions. Cover and bake for 25 minutes longer. Add the frozen green peas, cover again, and bake for 5 minutes more. Serve with rice.