ragoût d'agneau

Exceptional food is just another one of the many reasons Paris is so adored, and this comes not just from a culture centered around cooking and eating, but from a cultural emphasis on quality of ingredients. Markets pop up every day of the week in every neighborhood, everything (even the processed breakfast cereal) proudly proclaims "fabriquée en France," they have some of the strictest regulations on chemical and antibiotic use in produce and meat, and they sell primarily seasonal ingredients. Even the biggest supermarket chains are stocked regularly with what many Americans would consider "exotic" ingredients: foie gras, chicken liver, pig's feet, duck breast, whole rabbit, squab, cow tongue, venison. And of course, lamb. After a day of braving the wind and rain in Paris, this stew warmed me from the inside out. The lamb literally melted off the bone, the broth was perfectly salty and satisfying, and the vegetables burst with flavor. Living cheap as a student on the outskirts of Paris, this was even better - the whole pot cost less than €10, and took less than 20 minutes of actual work in the kitchen.

Lamb Stew

{serves 4}

ingredients

3 tablespoons butter

2 large carrots, cubed

1 large onion, chopped

1 large zucchini, cubed

4 sprigs fresh thyme & 2 bay leaves, bundled

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

4 small-medium lamb chops

1 tablespoon flour

3-4 cups beef stock (depending on how much broth you want)

freshly ground black pepper

method

In a large pot, sautée onions, zucchini, carrots, and garlic in butter over medium heat until soft. Add flour and mix well. Add stock, lamb, herb bundle, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then set to simmer on low for at least 2 hours. Before serving, shred the meat off the bones (should melt off easily).