Last spring, when the Soups & Stews editor asked me to develop recipes for his magazine, the timing could not have been better. I was actually in France, staying in a little apartment by the Mediterranean Sea. The weather had just hit a cold spell, and I was craving something warming and hearty—but something that tapped into the finesse that is France.
The answer was blanquette—a French stew that’s finished with a tumble of fresh vegetables plus a touch of luscious cream to make it white—blanquette comes from the French word blanc (white).
Blanquette is traditionally made with veal, but I turned to my French butcher to inspire other versions. That day, he had absolutely beautiful chunks of lamb stew meat, which simmers to tender perfection. At the vegetable market, leeks and green onions snagged my attention—they simply go great with lamb. Not a lamb fan? Boneless beef short ribs also work wonderfully.
Once home, I followed the classic recipe for any blanquette: You braise the meat with flavorful ingredients—wine, herbs, veggies, and broth. Later, you strain the cooking liquids, which become the base of an amazing sauce that’s enriched and thickened with a beurre-manié (a fancy name for a super-simple flour-butter mixture). Finish with bright, fresh veggies, and you’ll have a vivid, fresh, and refined stew that your guests won’t soon forget. PS: Leftovers taste wonderful.
Try the recipe, and be sure to pick up Soups & Stews magazine, which offers two more fabulous variations on the blanquette theme: Chicken Blanquette and Pork Blanquette, plus my favorite go-with: Any-Night Baked Rice.
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