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What Is Navarin?

By Angie Bates
Updated May 16, 2024
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Navarin is a French lamb stew made with root vegetables. Although mutton, or adult sheep meat, can be added instead of lamb, most recipes for this stew call for the more tender lamb pieces. Potatoes and onions are almost always included, as well as a variety of other vegetables and spices. The term navarin is said to come from the French word for turnips: navet.

The meat for navarin is always trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized pieces. Then, it is often seasoned with salt and pepper before beginning the cooking process. Normally lamb shoulder or breast meat is used for this stew.

In addition to potatoes and onions, parsnips, carrots, garlic, and turnips may be included. A green vegetable is also generally added, usually green beans or peas, though celery may be added as well. Although tomatoes are sometimes found in navarin, tomato paste is almost always included. Mustard, often Dijon, is frequently added.

Most of the vegetables are peeled and chopped prior to cooking. The onions may be chopped into wedges, but more often small pearl onions are used. Pearl onions are just peeled and placed in the stew whole. The garlic is always crushed.

Thyme and bay leaves are the usual spices included. These are normally fresh and are bundled together in a garni, or a small bouquet, so they can be easily extracted from the stew before serving. Navarin's liquid base is usually chicken or beef stock.

To make navarin, the lamb is browned in butter and oil and then removed. The garlic, along with some of the root vegetables are added and cooked. Afterward, flour is stirred in to help thicken the drippings just before the tomato paste and mustard are added. Once those are stirred in, the meat is returned to the pot. The potatoes, bundle of herbs, and stock are added last.

Alternately, the garlic may be added as the meat browns. Then the meat is coated in a flour, salt, and pepper mixture. The stock can be heated separately, and the meat is placed in the stock after its covered in the flour mixture. Tomatoes and herbs are added before its allowed to simmer. After simmering for about half an hour, most of the other vegetables are added.

In any version, navarin may simmer for up to an hour after the vegetables are added. If green beans are used, they are included about half an hour before the stew is complete. Peas are added only a few minutes before completion. Once the stew is done, the herbs are removed. Navarin is often garnished with parsley.

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