In my family, the men cook. At least most of them do. My brother-in-law Andy can’t boil water (or so my sister Annmarie claims), but the rest know their way around the kitchen, including my dad.
Mind you, that wasn’t always the case. When my sisters and I were little, our mom worked the occasional evening shift in a local bookstore. On those nights, Dad’s answer to the dinner question all too often involved eggs and pancakes. Our response to that menu, just as often, involved tears. To this day, none of us want anything to do with breakfast for dinner.
With time, however, Dad’s culinary skills improved, and a few years back, when I was home visiting, Mom went out for the evening and he whipped up a lamb and mushroom stew for us. This time, there were no tears.
Since then, I’ve played around with Dad’s original recipe quite a bit, including nixing the canned mushrooms (sorry Dad) and adding spiced sweet potatoes. Now, when the windows start to frost over, I head to the store in search of inexpensive lamb.
Last week, the windows did this:
Hence, lamb was on the menu.
The great thing about this stew is that it seems impressive. After all…lamb. But it’s actually a ridiculously simple dish. Also, if you find lamb shoulder on sale (which I did—thank you, Kroger), it’s as cheap as it is simple, making it a natural choice for a winter dinner party…or an easy family dinner. The groceries for the stew came in at just under $10. If there weren’t tomatoes in the freezer (put up from last summer’s garden), it would have cost $12.