Cookbook Tester–Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe


Lamb stew alla Romana

Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano was published way back in 2001, but we think that the book is worth a second look. Union Square Cafe , opened in 1985, was Danny Meyer’s first restaurant, serving seasonal, New American-Italian food that was rare at the time.

The cookbook, co-written with executive chef Micheal Romano, is fat with recipes (140 to be exact), many of them fairly simple–chile and sage rubbed salmon, chicken saltimbocca, scallops with citrus-yogurt marinade, linguine with clams and pancetta, and so on.

Since it felt like late fall last night (when will it stop?!), we decided to try out a warming stew. Lamb stew alla Romana takes a while to braise, but the ingredient list is fairly short (you only have to chop onions and garlic) and the results are delicious. Simply flavored with onion, garlic, rosemary, wine and anchovy paste, the broth grows sweet and complex as it cooks.

We followed the recipe as written, with the exception of using leg of lamb instead of shoulder–it’s easier to find and works just as well. Otherwise, we wouldn’t change a thing. And since the weather gods seem to be determined to pretend it’s October, now is a good time to stew.

Lamb Stew alla Romana
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
Recipe from Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe You can substitute leg of lamb for lamb shoulder.

3 pounds trimmed lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups thinly sliced onion
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons anchovy paste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle both sides of the lamb cubes with salt and pepper.

In an oven-proof pot or Dutch oven, warm the oil over high heat. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides, and then transfer to a platter. When all the lamb has been browned, poor off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until wilted and slightly browned.

Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the garlic, Aleppo pepper or pepper flakes, and rosemary, and cook 3 to 4 minutes longer.

Add the lamb to the pot, along with the accumulated juices, and stir well. Pour thewine, stock, and vinegar over the lamb and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, and transfer to the oven, and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Uncover the pot and stir in the anchovy paste. Return the pot to the oven and continue cooking, uncovered, until the meat is tender enough to cut with a spoon, about 30 minutes longer. The stewing liquid should be reduced enough to lightly coat the meat. If it is too thin, bring the stew to a gentle boil on the stove top, and reduce until the sauce thickens. Taste, and adjust for salt and pepper if necessary. To serve, spoon into a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley.