The Challenger: In this corner, weighing in at a lanky 140lbs with an experienced stomach, massive calves, and 28 years of eating under her belt (literally): THE HEAT!
Round 1: The Heat was hot out of the gates -slicing the brioche 1/2 inch thick, layering it in gooey Gruyere, and dunking repeatedly in a vat of hot tomato soup. But the one, two punch of a buttered exterior followed by a swift kick of truffle butter inside was too much for The Heat to handle. She had to tag in her teammate to finish what she had started - allowing her a last minute, albeit questionable victory.
Round 2: With last round being such a close call, the Heat decided to step it up with a more formidable first punch: Balsamic Lamb Stew. Thick, murky sauce dotted with a pungent kick of balsamic vinegar, stewed onions and chunky potatoes were no match for the tough end pieces of the brioche. It soaked up every last morsel - leaving the Heat high and dry, and sent her cowering back to the corner for a towel off and a sip of wine.
- 3T. olive oil
- 3lbs. lean lamb stew meat, well trimmed and cut into 2" cubes
- 3T. all-purpose flour
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 medium onions, thickly sliced
- 2 carrots coarsely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 3T tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bouquet garni of fresh rosemary and thyme or any combination of herbs
- 1 cup of a bold red wine
- 2.5 cups of beef stock (or lamb stock if you can find it)
- 2 medium boiling potatoes cut into chunks or a handful of small potatoes
- 2T balsamic vinegar
- Bring stew meat to room temperature before cooking - it helps it to sear properly. Dry meat with paper towels and add to a plastic bag.
- Add the flour and a few cracks of salt and pepper to the bag and shake (Shake and Bake style) to evenly coat the meat with the mixture.
- Meanwhile heat up the 3T of olive oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat.
- Sear each piece of meat in the hot oil, allowing it to bubble and brown slightly on all sides - about 6-7 minutes. Do so in shifts to avoid crowding the pan.
- Remove the lamb and add your onions and carrots until the onions are translucent.
- Stir in the garlic, followed by the tomato paste, toasting them on the bottom of the pan for about a minute.
- Add the meat back to the pan and deglaze with the cup of red wine, scraping brown bits off the bottom.
- Add the bay leaves and bouquet garni.
- Pour the 2 cups of stock until almost covering the meat.
- Cover and let simmer over low heat (small bubbles appear at the surface, NOT boiling) for about 1.5hrs.
- Uncover and stir in potatoes, allowing to cook covered for an additional 30-40 minutes.
- Stir in 2T balsamic vinegar and serve.