Braised Lamb with Garlic, Asparagus, and Peas

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1-1/2 pounds lean shoulder (or leg) of lamb, cut into 2-inch cubes

Coarse or kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 onion, sliced thin

1 carrot, peeled and diced

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup water

2 bay leaves

1-1/2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves (reserve stems)

3 sprigs thyme

About 5 cups water

8 to 10 stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed and chopped

1/2 tablespoon chopped chervil or tarragon leaves

1 cup fresh peas

In a large heavy pan fitted with a lid, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add lamb to cover bottom of pan without touching one another; brown well on all sides. Remove lamb to a plate using a slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining meat. If the pan gets dry, add a little more oil; if lamb starts to burn, turn down the heat slightly. Season lamb with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and carrot, stirring to coat them in the oil. Saut three to four minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir to disperse the flour and to cook it through, one to two minutes.

Add water and reduce liquid to about two tablespoons.

Tie together bay leaves, parsley stems, and thyme sprigs and add them to the pan along with the meat and any juices that have collected on the plate. Add enough water to come 2/3 up the side of the meat. (Quantity will depend on the size of the pan.)

Season lightly; bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Place a cover slightly askew over the pan, and simmer, so that the liquid is just bubbling. Simmer for about one hour, until lamb is extremely tender and the cooking liquid has reduced to a thin, robust sauce. Check lamb by pinching a piece between your fingers. If it is soft and splits easily, it's cooked.

Meanwhile, bring a small pan of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook for one to two minutes; drain. In a small bowl, combine the chopped parsley, garlic, and chervil. Set aside.

When you think the meat is almost done, add asparagus, peas, and about one third of the garlic-herb mixture. Heat to cook through. Taste; adjust seasoning. Discard the bundle of herbs.

Spoon some sauce over the meat when serving, and sprinkle with the remaining garlic-herb mixture.

Serves 4.

- Recipes adapted from

'The Cook and The Gardner'

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