Fern Glen Inn • www.ferngleninn.blogspot.com
I've mentioned our nearby neighbours, the Sheekey's, before. Val knits vitamin scarves, and Ray's cat, Titou, spends his winters entertaining our guests. And, coincidentally, I worked with their son back in my "big city" days.
We also get our lamb from the Sheekey's. Every summer, Val and Ray raise two or three sheep in a lovely little pasture at their home alongside the Magnetawan River. The sheep are well cared for and naturally raised. In fact, they are sometimes more free-range than intended, escaping their pen to explore the world!
In the fall, the sheep are loaded into the family car and taken to the local abattoir/butcher, soon to be returned to the Sheekey's in neatly wrapped brown paper packages that go straight into the freezer. The sheep from last summer are the lamb chops, sausage, and rib roasts we enjoy for dinner this year. It felt uncomfortable at first to meet my food while it was still an animal, but I know this is the way consumption used to be, the way it should be still.
Val and Ray sell the various cuts of lamb—as well as eggs from their free-ranging chickens, veggies from their garden, and homemade jams, jellies and pickles—to friends and neighbours. If you'd like to take some home for yourself after your next visit to the inn, we'll send you on over to meet the Sheekeys.
You can also savour lamb sausages during a dinner here at the inn. Just let us know in advance and we'll work it into the menu. I've served them with chili, with balsamic vegetables , and with a fresh corn and zucchini saute garnished with Val's amazing mint jelly.
The lamb recipe here is for a casual one-pot meal I like to make for Jim and myself when we want something filling without a lot of fuss. I keep it simple with ingredients I usually have on hand in my pantry and freezer.
Lamb Sausage Stew with Chickpeas
- olive oil
- 1 pound lamb sausage, casings removed
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 of a 900ml can diced tomatoes with juices
- 3/4 cup israeli couscous or orzo pasta
- 1 cup chicken broth, more if needed
- 1 700ml can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 of a 300 gram bag of spinach leaves, washed (or frozen spinach, thawed)
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, mint, or basil (or a pinch of dried herbs such as thyme, oregano or herbs de provence)
- crumbled feta cheese and crusty bread for serving
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven. Add the sausage, crumbled, and cook until nicely browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add more olive oil to the pot if it's dry, or remove excess oil if there's more than just a thin film of it. Add the onion, celery and carrot. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until softened. Add the garlic and stir for another minute.
Add the tomatoes, israeli couscous (or pasta) and chicken broth. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes. Add the reserved sausage, chickpeas and the spinach. Cook, stirring often, until the israeli couscous or pasta is tender, the sausage is heated through and the spinach is wilted, about another 5 minutes. Add more chicken stock or water if the mixture is too dry and sticks to the bottom of the pot. Stir in the herbs.
Ladel the stew into shallow bowls. Top with crumbled feta cheese and serve with crusty bread.