Yesterday I was salivating at the thought of lamb stew, made by avid “Instapotters” Kaptain Kale (my husband) and Chef Sizzle-Snap (my son). But the kaptain jumped ship to attend a colleague happy hour and my son pulled the clever and hard-to-argue-with excuse “I’m busy with homework”. So I was all alone in the kitchen with my local lamb stew chunks.
Did I mention that, after 1000 hours of research, I ordered an electric stove to replace my 1985 gas stove which had started to leak gas? The replacement rolled into my kitchen last week accompanied by the unexpected newsflash that it couldn’t be hooked up because the house was only plumbed for gas.
An electrician estimated it would cost well over a thousand dollars to create a new 220 volt outlet and snake wires throughout the house to connect it to the existing power source. So I shook my fists at the heavens and screamed and cried and then bought another gas stove. Like almost everything else these days, it’s backordered.
So I am stove-less. But I do have an Instapot!
Hubby sent me a recipe while on his playdate. Here it is:
I cajoled/guilted my son into taking a look and offering some tips. The recipe calls for potatoes. I proposed sweet potatoes, because they are more nutrient dense. My son was not happy.(“No way!”)
The recipe includes celery, carrots, onions, and garlic. I opened the fridge to see what remained from our last expedition to the farmers market and local co-op. Carrots and celery—check. Also eggplant and zucchini. And green peppers from our garden. There’s always a stash of onions and garlic. “Let’s throw it all in!” I cheered.
My son does not appreciate making it up as you go, so he announced that he would not be dining with me. Unfazed, I simply reminded him that he has 30 minutes of chores every day and I assign him a task based on the house’s needs. Tonight, I needed dinner. He agreed to prepare the meat if I chopped all the vegetables.
Use what you have
I poked around the cupboards and fridge for other ingredients in the recipe. Tomato paste—nope. Beef broth—nada. Red wine—not a drop. Fresh thyme and rosemary leaves—none. But we had a whole lot of chicken bone broth so we doubled the quantity to fulfill the liquid requirement.
I discovered a dried mix called Herbs de Tejas which included oregano, thyme, lavender, basil, sage, rosemary, garlic chives, and jalapeno. Any of these herbs will complement a lamb stew. We miraculously had arrowroot flour. I like to stock a variety of gluten-and-grain flours for situations like this…
So we threw it all together, hoping for the best. Chef Sizzle-Snap took charge of the pot. He’s presided over many a stew so doesn’t really need directions anymore. Here’s what he did:
- Spray bottom of Instapot with avocado oil.
- Place lamb chunks so each one has contact with surface of pot. Press “sear”. 5 minutes one side, then flip and 1 minute the other side. Cook in batches till all are browned. Then remove them and set them aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Add all veggies. Sear for 4 minutes.
- Add all liquids. Quantity should almost cover food.
- Add back meat and potatoes and any seasonings and stir together.
- Press “meat” and change time to 40 minutes.
- When it beeps, vent steam out till pressure is released.
Ask/dare kids to try it
Admittedly I didn’t know what we would end up with, but that’s part of the fun of experimentation. The result was the best Instapot stew ever made at the Good Food Fighter residence. The zucchini was sweet and succulent, the eggplant was tender and juicy, the sweet potatoes melted in your mouth. I wish I could share a spoonful with each of my readers. It was heavenly!
I pretended I wasn’t looking when my son left his computer station and slipped past me quietly to sample mommy’s crazy creation. He took one serving…and then another.
The next morning I asked him what he wanted me to pack for lunch and he said, “lamb stew”.
So, you see, if it looks good, smells good, contains at least one ingredient they love, and they have a hand in making it, kids will probably taste it.
What’s in your fridge today?
Some dishes allow you great flexibility, and flexibility is the mantra of busy parents who don’t have a fully stocked fridge 24/7. Flexibility is also important for kids who liked zucchini last week but hate it this week and are briefly willing to eat cauliflower, which they will hate next week. Go with the flow. You can also hide lots of healthy stuff in a stew, and the sauce and flavorful meat will seep into the veggies and make them yummier.
Do you have any stew meat? What about tofu? Give yourself permission to substitute this for that. I am a big substituter, so I have a good instinct for these things. Any questions? Just post in the comments below and I’ll let you know my unprofessional non-chef super-food-fighter opinion ;-).
p.s. I didn’t realize the dish would be such a hit so didn’t take pictures of the preparation. Note to self.
p.p.s. You can also do this in a wok. Sauté garlic and onions, stir-fry the lamb, remove it, toss in all the veggies, then add back in the lamb (or other meat). If using potatoes, boil them separately and then add them at the end. Season any way you want!