Friday, May 6, 2022

Braised Lamb and Turnip or Brussels Sprouts: Easy, Easy, Easy 



I guess this rich, slightly heavy dish doesn’t really fit with the early summer heat we’re experiencing recently in North Georgia. But its easiness, at least, suits cooking in the prematurely hot weather. Having been food shopping for the restaurant and household in Atlanta yesterday, I had a half pound of ground lamb and some fresh purple-topped turnips on hand. So here is one of the simplest dishes I cook that can qualify as dinner.

Ground lamb is one of my favorite meats. Middle eastern meatballs are the preferred use, but a modest amount of lamb braised with hearty vegetables to season them works very well. Okra, chickpeas, turnip, or Brussels sprouts are all enhanced by some lamb cooked with them, and the result is economical, savory and hearty. Fresh ground lamb is sometimes hard to find. It’s always available in Atlanta in shops where the Muslim community shops, like Dekalb Farmers Market and Buford Highway Farmers Market. But it’s also at stores elsewhere, including here in Athens, that carry good and especially local meats. It’s a little pricey, but you don’t need a lot. Ground pork or even good ground beef can substitute. 

I got spring turnips this time, but heartier brassicas like rutabaga turnip or Brussels sprouts (or even kohlrabi) also work. With the dominating flavors of lamb and turnip I used only mild enhancements from black pepper and a little onion The starch to accompany this was toasted split English muffins or whole-grain toast, and the side dish was a fresh green salad with lettuce from my garden. The meal took about 25 minutes from start to eating. 

The recipe serves 2-3 for a small dinner. A dollop of sour cream can be put on top of the mixture when eating. 

1 medium-large or 2 medium turnips, or 1 small rutabaga (or 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts) 
1/2 small onion, finely minced 
1/2-pound ground lamb, or pork or beef 
3/8 teaspoon ground black pepper 
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 
2 tablespoons white wine 
Water as needed 
2 toasted English muffins split in halves halves or 2 slices whole grain bread for serving 
Sour cream for topping, optional 

Peel the turnip(s) and cut in 1/4-inch dice, or cut stem off Brussels sprouts and quarter them. 

In pot, fry the ground meat with the minced onion until well cooked. Add turnip or Brussels sprouts plus pepper and salt, wine and a few tablespoons water. Cover pot and cook over low-medium heat, stirring every few minutes, until vegetable becomes tender (15 minutes for turnip, 20 plus minutes for rutabaga, 10 minutes for Brussels sprouts). Add a little water if needed to keep a little liquid in the pot. 

Taste a piece of vegetable for tenderness and salt. Add salt as needed. Cook until tender, and remove from the heat. 

Serve on buttered, toasted English muffin halves or slices of toast. Put a dollop of sour cream on the braised meat and vegetable if desired. Accompany with a green salad.