Lamb and bean casserole is a warming one pot meal that’s perfect for winter. Full of flavour and fragrant with spices to keep out the cold.
Diced lamb and canned beans make preparation so easy, once everything is in the pot you can leave this dish to cook itself.
Lamb and Bean Stew
A long slowly cooked casserole or stew is a classically northern European dish. In winter, the stove or fire would be lit all day to heat the home, leading to our tradition of slowly cooked or simmered dishes.
Long slow cooking transforms the cheaper, but flavour filled cuts of meat, into a meltingly soft and tender dish, which is both frugal and satisfying.
It’s the warming, stick to your ribs food that you can imagine keeping all those Breugel figures going through a mini ice age.
Lovely Lamb Casserole
I love a good casserole and have amassed quite a collection of cast iron casserole dishes in various sizes and colours. So much so, that when I was a student, living in a house–share for a year, the oven became known as “Helly’s Casserole Cupboard”!
Stews and casseroles are, of course, perfect for a student crowd. Ideally when making a casserole you need to cook in bulk.
Smaller quantities do not seem to work as well and can start to dry out, so make a stew when you have a houseful to feed or cook in bulk for the freezer. That way, you will always have a comforting home-cooked meal to heat up when you come home on a cold wet evening.
When you cook choose a casserole dish that is heavy with a lid that fits well. Always use the smallest dish possible for the quantity. I find that most casseroles improve with a night in the fridge and then reheating, so there’s no reason not to enjoy your stew two nights in a row.
Lamb and Bean Stew Ingredients
I wanted something a little different from the traditional Lancashire hot pots and Irish stews, so I added a little spice to my one-pot casserole this time. Earthy spice flavours fell out of favour in British cooking for a while, but the cumin and coriander seed I have used here hark back to earlier times.
I have used beans too, the frugal staple of stew recipes right across Europe for centuries.
Canned beans are one of my favourite ways of adding protein and bulk to stew recipes, like this vegetarian feijoada or a hearty meat dish like this beef in stout. Brands vary so, as with all bean stew dishes, you need to adjust for the softness of the beans. If they are very soft, leave them until later in the cooking so that they don’t disintegrate.
As this is a more Northern European style of dish there isn’t the usual can of tomatoes or addition of red peppers. You could make this go further with a generous handful or two of diced root vegetables – carrots, parsnips, swedes or turnips!
Less frugal (at least in a country where most of us don’t grow our own grapes) is the wine that I have added. I like the depth it adds to the flavour, but you can leave it out. Just add a little more stock or some ale or beer if you prefer.
Cheaper cuts of meat are ideal for stewing, as they are often the ones best suited to slow cooking. I use diced lamb, which is great for recipes of this type. Ready chopped from the supermarket, it saves on both work and washing up!
Lamb and Bean Stew Recipe Step-by-Step
Step 1 – Melt the dripping in a heavy casserole dish. Add the diced lamb in batches and fry until starting to brown. Once browned, remove the lamb from the casserole and set aside on a plate.
Step 2 – Put the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the pan with the dripping and meat juices. Season with salt and pepper and then sauté until soft.
Step 3 – Add the cumin, coriander and paprika. Cook for a further few minutes, stirring all the time, until fragrant.
Step 4 – Return the lamb to the pot. Stir in the flour and cook for a few minutes.
Step 5 – Add a splash of the stock and stir well. Adding the liquid slowly stops you getting any lumps of flour in the sauce, keep adding a splash at a time and stirring until you have a thick sauce. Whilst you are doing this give the bottom of the pot a good scrape so all those delicious brown bits get swept up into the gravy.
Add the rest of the stock, the wine and stir.
Step 6 – If your beans are fairly firm, add them at this stage. Stir in well, adding a little more liquid if necessary to cover all the ingredients. If the beans are very soft, reserve them and add for the last hour of cooking.
Step 7 – Put the lid on the casserole. Cook slowly at 170°C / Gas Mark 3 for 2 and a half to 3 hours. Your lamb and bean stew is ready when the meat is tender and you have a thick sauce.
Step 8 – Serve topped with lots of chopped parsley.
Can I freeze Lamb Casserole?
Absolutely yes. Allow to cool and pack into a plastic tub and freeze. Defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat in the microwave.
Diced Lamb Stew – Hints, Tips & Variations
- Frying and browning the lamb at the start of cooking makes a huge difference to the finished dish. It is crucial to do this in stages – allow plenty of space around each piece, so the meat browns. If you throw it all in at once it will steam and take forever to brown.
- Make sure you scrape all the delicious brown bits off the bottom of the casserole dish after browning the meat and vegetables. They are full of flavour.
- To Slow Cook – Follow to step 6, bring to s simmer and then transfer to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 90 minutes then 6 hours on low. Add the beans 90 minutes to one hour from the end of cooking.
- To Thicken – You can also thicken this with cornflour at the end of cooking. Put a teaspoon of cornflour into a small pot and then add a few spoons of gravy from the casserole and mix to make a thin paste. Stir this back through the casserole. Never add corn starch directly to a dish as you will never be able to get rid of the lumps.
- Add Extra Veg! It is really easy to pack this with some extra veggies – try adding diced carrots (or other root vegetables) at the start of cooking along with the celery and onions, or some diced squash or pumpkin.
Lamb & Bean One Pot Casserole
- 1 tbs dripping
- 500 g stewing lamb ( cut into 2½cm cubes)
- 1 onion (peeled and diced)
- 1 carrot (peeled and diced)
- 2 sticks celery (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
- 1 tsp cumin (ground)
- 1 tsp coriander seed (ground)
- 1/2 tsp hot paprika or chipotle powder
- 1 tbs flour
- 1/2 small glass red wine
- 500 ml lamb or chicken stock
- 2 cans beans (800g, rinsed and drained - I used black eyed beans and borlotti)
- Melt the dripping in a heavy casserole and add the lamb in batches, Fry until starting to brown. Once browned, remove the lamb from the casserole and set aside on a plate a plate.
- When all the lamb has been browned, add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until soft.
- Add the spices and cook for another few minutes stirring all the time until fragrant.
- Return the lamb to the pot. Stir in the flour and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the wine and stock, then stir in the beans*, adding a little more liquid so all the ingredients are covered.
- Put the lid on the casserole and cook slowly at 170°C / Gas Mark 3 for 2 and a half to 3 hours, until the lamb is tender and you have a thick sauce.
- Serve topped with lots of chopped parsley.
You could easily double the amount of added vegetables too.