July Recipe – Creamy Lamb Casserole with Fennel and White Beans

A savoury recipe for this month using lamb and fennel which are both in season at present.  Fennel is used a lot in Italian cookery and is delicious raw in salads, made into soup or roasted.  I visited a lovely garden near Worcester a couple of weeks ago, and the owner was growing his own fennel very successfully.

I will endeavour to find a sweet recipe for next month for those who enjoy their desserts.

Servers 4

  • 25g. / 1oz. butter
  • 2 tbsps. Olive oil
  • 800 – 900g. / 1 ¾ – 2lbs. diced lamb
  • 2 rounded teaspoons caster sugar
  • 1 rounded tbsp. plain flour
  • 450mls. / ¾ pt. milk
  • 150mls. / ¼ pt. double cream
  • 2 – 3 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 2 bulbs of fennel
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • small sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 425g. / 15oz. tin white cannellini beans
  • 1 rounded teaspoon paprika
  • salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 240C / 475F / Gas Mark 9. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over a fairly high heat. Add the lamb and caster sugar and stir until the meat has browned and caramelized. Using a slotted spoon transfer the lamb to a casserole. Put the flour in a jug with a little of the milk and stir until smooth. Stir in the remaining milk and the cream, season with cayenne pepper and some salt and pour over the lamb.
  2. Cut the base, top stalks and any marked outer parts off the fennel and slice each bulb into quarters lengthways. Bash the garlic cloves with the back of a heavy knife and slice into quarters lengthways. Arrange the fennel and garlic pieces amongst the lamb and add the fennel seeds and rosemary.
  3. Cover the dish and put in the oven for 20 minutes, until simmering. Turn the oven down to 150C / 300F / Gas Mark 2 and cook for another 1 ½ hours or until the meat is tender. Mix in the drained beans, sprinkle the paprika in the centre and put back in the oven for about 15 minutes to heat the beans. Broccoli or greens and sautéed potatoes go well with this dish.
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