Provençal Lamb Stew

Provençal Lamb Stew

Although Provençal lamb stew is meat-based, it benefits from the addition of plenty of vegetables including peppers, eggplant, and zucchini, along with southern French seasonings like Espelette pepper and saffron to create a symphony of lusty flavors. The final addition of Niçoise olives and herbs bring the whole dish to life. In true Mediterranean fashion, this lively take on a classic preparation features the meat sharing, but not dominating, the center of the plate.

Like many stews, this can be made ahead and the flavors improve with reheating. Add the basil and/or parsley just before serving. Serve over polenta, mashed potatoes, or even garlicky grits.

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Yield: 6 servings
Prep time: about 1 1/2 hours, mostly unattended
Shelf life: at least 4 to 5 days


3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds well-trimmed shoulder of lamb, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes, blotted dry
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
1 1/2 cups peeled eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 cup veal or beef stock
1 1/2 cups zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
2 medium sliced carrots (1 cup)
3/4 cup each diced red and green bell peppers
1 stalk diced celery (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups pinot noir
1 cups diced or crushed canned San Marzano tomatoes, with juices
1 strip orange zest (about 3 x 1/2 inch)
1 large bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon Aleppo or Espelette pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup pitted Nicoise or other small black olives
1/4 cup julienned basil leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. In a large, heavy casserole over medium-high, heat half of the oil. Add the lamb in batches so as not to crowd, and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes total cooking time. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the remaining oil to the pan along with the onion and eggplant, and saute until the onion is soft and lightly browned, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the stock and boil until reduced by half, stirring up all the browned bits.
  3. Add the zucchini, carrots, red and green bell peppers, and celery along with the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, stir in the tomatoes, orange zest, bay leaf, rosemary leaves, thyme, saffron, Aleppo pepper, and tomato paste.
  4. Return the lamb to the pot, cover partially, and simmer until the meat is almost tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Uncover and continue cooking for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced to the proper consistency and the lamb is very tender. Remove the bay leaf and orange zest. Stir in the olives, season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle on the basil and parsley, and serve over mashed potatoes or polenta.