Before you freak out, no, it’s really not poop that’s on the plate. It’s just really dark lamb stew, courtesy of a dark stout beer and a healthy dose of sofrito, which also turns dark when cooked. As you can tell, the beautiful flat bread on the side is to visually distract you from the black hot (and delicious) mess, and no, I didn’t make the flat bread.
It reminds me of those times on Top Chef when people make something that the judges acknowledge as delicious, but for whatever reason it looks grey/brown/beige, aka unappealing. Sure, we eat with our eyes, but you know what else we eat with? Our mouth. Our tongue. We taste. As a psychologist who studies the effect of cognition on perception, I should be the one who gets why people let their preconception stop them from eating good food. I mean, I get it. What I don’t get is how people after giving something that looks unusual a try and knowing that it’s good, still refuse to eat it on the basis of how it looks. What’s stopping you? Is it your eyes that have tongues sticking out of your sockets? Sounds like a personal problem.
In any case, stew is such a great way to use up all kinds of leftovers, in my case, great stout beer that unfortunately went flat because we forgot about it. Beer doesn’t go bad, and I figure the taste would still be there, so when we saw lamb cheeks at the butcher’s, I came up with this stew to finally consume all the beer.
How-to-(cleverly!)- use-your-leftover-beer stew: (though I have a hunch that “leftover beer” is a unique phenomenon to our household and not others)
1-2 pounds of lamb stew meat (we had lamb cheeks, but anything will do!)
2-3 tbs of sofrito (we made a lot one time and they freeze well; you can always just chop up different herbs and garlic with some kind of peppers, like bell pepper, serrano, jalapeno, etc. if you don’t have sofrito on hand)
One 12-ounce bottle of stout beer, preferably really flat and having been in the fridge for 2 months or more *
Gratuitous amount of smoked paprika (optional)
- Dry the lamb (slightly coat in flour if you really want to get that brownness) and brown in a bit of olive oil. If you have lamb cheek, there will be enough fat rendered that you don’t need a lot of oil at all.
- Put in the sofrito and saute with the lamb till fragrant.
- Pour in the beer, sprinkle the paprika, salt to taste, and stew till lamb is soft.
*a joke; any stout beer will do.