Comfort in a Fancy Form

Champvallon (from Martha Stewart Recipes)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces 
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for sprinkling
5 to 6 russet potatoes, peeled


Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season lamb generously with salt and pepper. Cook a third of the lamb, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in cup stock, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Pour liquid over browned lamb. Repeat with oil, lamb, and Picture1stock. After the last batch, do not pour out stock.

Add onions, garlic, and rosemary to pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Return browned lamb and juices from bowl to pot. Add remaining 3 cups stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a mandoline or handheld slicer, slice potatoes thinly. Rinse, then pat dry. Toss with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Cover bottom of a 12-inch gratin dish with half the potato slices: starting at outer edge, overlap each potato by half, working in concentric circles toward center. (There should be 4 circles.) Spoon lamb and broth over top, then repeat arrangement with remaining potato slices on top of lamb. Sprinkle with rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until top is gold, edges are crisp, and juices are bubbling, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly before serving.

I made this for Easter supper. While it may not be the large ham or lamb leg presented on the table, I thought it was a great addition to my “fancy but not over the top” recipe repertoire. It says the comfort of chicken pot pie, but has the upscale quality of a good restaurant’s holiday offering. Even though the name and instructions came off a bit lengthy, it was quite simple to make.

My one suggestion is to use a very large baking dish instead of a gratin. I had many drips from such a small vessel. I had some broth leftover and made a simple gravy with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of cornstarch. Served with a simple green salad and asparagus, this made for  a great Easter dinner for two.

Leftovers? If you have any, I can see a ton of offshoot dishes for this. I’m considering adding a little curry and veggies to this and making a twist on lamb rogan josh. Quite excited to see how this meal keeps on giving!


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