French Notes: Navarin to Savarin (part I)

Nothing beats a rhyming menu: entrée  (navarin) to dessert (savarin), with  romarin sprig in champagne. The last one is my favorite apéritif: the fragrant notes of rosemary combined with the crisp bubbles that hit the nose and the palate simultaneouly is a winner in my book.  A sommelier, on Paris soil,  once pointed out to me with his elegant French accent that a flute– which BTW is a great rosemary-sprig delivery device– is where the Americans falter with sparkling wine. He proposed a small red wine glass with a wider brim– I am still pondering over it.

Navarin Printanier is a stew of spring vegetables and lamb. Here I adapt the classical recipe with a touch of overwintered spinach and a garnish of toasted dessicated coconut.
In the second part, I will tackle savarin.

Navarin Printanier
Special tools:

Slow cooker (crockpot) or pressure cooker


  • 2 lbs lamb stew cut (shoulder)
  • vegetables trimmed and cut into 1″ stew pieces (3/4 cup each of potatoes, carrots, turnips)
  • Flavoring agents: 2 pods garlic minced + 1/2 tsp thyme leaves + 1 bay leaf
  • cooking medium: 2 cups chicken broth + 16 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Coating: 1/4 cup flour + salt & pepper to taste
  • 8 oz pearl onions + 1 cup green peas
  • 3-4 bunches overwintered spinach, chopped with stem
  • 1 cup (unsweetened) dessicated coconut, toasted lightly on a skillet


Coat the lamb pieces with the coating ingredients in a ziplock bag. Heat the oil on a skillet and brown the lamb pieces. Then remove and add to the slow cooker.  Deglaze the skillet with some of the chicken broth.  Add all the ingredients except that last three bulleted items above.  Add salt to taste and cook on “slow” (200 F) for  5 hours till the meat is tender. Check with the particular brand of your slow cooker.

Add the pearl onions+green peas and  let cook for 45 mins.  Add the spinach for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Serve hot garnished with toasted coconut.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. The overwintered spinach is not tender enough for salad but great to provide some texture to this stew.
  2. You can cut time by using a pressure cooker instead.  Based on your pressure cooker,  the cooking time can be as low as 30 minutes.  Take off the pressure and add the pearl onions+peas and spinach.
  3. With enough spinach in the stew, it is a complete meal.
  4. The stew is even better the second day after refrigeration. Not only the flavors meld, any fat residue solidifies as a top layer and can be easily separated.

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