About this recipe: Like Irish stew and Lancashire hotpot, this hearty dish is made with good-quality lamb, plus lots of vegetables, pearl barley, and bay leaves and thyme for flavouring. It is simple to make, and comes out of the oven smelling and tasting absolutely wonderful. Serve with purple sprouting broccoli or curly kale and baked potatoes.
For extra piquancy, add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce or a couple of crushed garlic cloves with the herbs in step 3. * Try diced carrots, swede or potatoes instead of the butternut squash and turnips. * Make the stew into a hearty soup. Brown 340 g (12 oz) trimmed and diced boneless lean leg of lamb in the oil. Remove from the pan. Add 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped leeks, 400 g (14 oz) diced swede and 200 g (7 oz) diced carrot. Sweat for 5 minutes, then stir in the pearl barley, 1.3 litres (2 1/4 pints) hot lamb or vegetable stock, 2 bay leaves and 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 2 tbsp chopped parsley. Season, then cook in the oven for 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender.
Pearl barley is low in fat and rich in starchy carbohydrate, and according to folklore it is a good food for potency and vigour. Roman gladiators ate barley to build up their strength, similar to the way today's athletes eat pasta the night before they compete. * Butternut squash is an excellent source of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. This vitamin is essential for good night vision. Butternut squash is also a good source of vitamin C and a useful source of vitamin E. All of these vitamins act as antioxidants, fighting against some cancers and preventing heart disease.
A, B1, B6, B12, C, E, folate, niacin, zinc * iron, magnesium, potassium * B2, calcium