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Oct 30, 2018
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Lamb Navarin Simmered in White Wine

Navarin d’agneau is a stew of lamb (or, in an earlier age, mutton) simmered in wine with potatoes, carrots, onions and turnips.  In the spring it is called Navarin Printanière and will include fresh peas.  The ingredients may be cooked in red wine, but white is more traditional.

If the stew is simmered in red wine, a red would logically be the most enjoyable wine to open with it.  When simmered in white, however, a Navarin can pair equally well with either a white or a red in your glass.  We invited a couple of friends to join us recently, and offered a selection of both red and white wines to accompany the stew.  Neither color proved inherently better than the other.
Lamb Navarin Simmered in White Wine

Serves 4-6

You can start cooking the Navarin a couple of hours before serving, but like most stews, this one benefits from being made a day or two ahead of time so that the flavors can mellow and fuse together.

Preheat oven to 450°

About 3 pounds of lamb neck, leg or shoulder cut in 1-2 inch cubes
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons peanut or olive oil
1 cup minced onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
3 carrots, sliced
2 turnips, peeled and quartered
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the lamb in a plastic bag and add the flour.  Shake the contents until the cubes of meat are well coated with flour (alternatively, place the meat in a bowl, add the flour, and toss together).  Transfer the cubes of meat to a strainer and shake off excess flour.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot and brown the lamb.  Add the onions and stir over medium heat until they just begin to color.  Add the garlic and cook another minute or two, then add the bay leaf and rosemary.  Add the potatoes, carrots, and turnips, then stir in the wine, chicken stock, and soy sauce.  When the mixture comes to a boil, give it a good stir and cover the pot.  Lower the oven temperature to 400 and transfer the pot to the oven.  Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the lamb is very tender. Taste for seasoning.

*          *         *

The basic idea behind using this recipe for “Wine With” was to test our theory about its versatility.  Well, it passed with flying colors, matching well with a fairly wide range of wines.  Not surprisingly, light-bodied whites like Pinot Grigio or Muscadet proved too delicate, while a few hearty reds (a Zinfandel, for example) were overly robust.  But so long as you avoid those extremes, you’ll likely be pleased with whatever you pour, making this Navarin a wine lover’s dream.

Connect  on Twitter:   @M_L_Thomas  and  @Wine_With_
More recipes and wine pairings:    Wine With...  



Approx. Price




Domaine de L’Arnesque,





(Imported by Roche-Mère)







Marked by earthy, savory notes but seductively supple on the palate, this soft red added an interesting flavor element while echoing the Navarin’s warm, sensuous appeal.


Marisco “The Ned,”


(New Zealand)

Pinot Gris


(Imported by Marisco Vyds USA)



Succulent, with a hint of sweetness (echoing the onions in the dish) and a long finish, this wine had more than enough stuffing to match the Navarin sip for bite.  Though it shows no wood influence, its bright summer fruit flavors are amply rich. 





Santa Lucia Highlands


“Sleep Hollow Vineyard”)








A classically rich, ripe, oak-laden Chardonnay from a winery that consistently excels with this style.  The key to its success, especially with wines from this vineyard, comes in the nervy acidity that keeps the wine in balance.  It complemented the juicy lamb perfectly.




G. D. Vajra,

Barbera d’Alba Superiore


(Imported by Vajra USA)









Showing many of the same attributes that distinguished the Côtes-du-Rhône we are recommending, yet having added complexity and depth of flavor, this earthy, truffle-scented red also exhibits a smooth, sensuous texture, making it all too easy to drink.  It seemed, like the lamb itself, to melt in your mouth.






J. Wilkes,

Santa Maria Valley


Pinot Noir











Soft and inviting, with a sweet edge but fine balance, so not at all sappy, this is an elegant Pinot Noir.  As with all the wines we are recommending, but especially the reds, much of its appeal came from its texture, which proved very enticing and matched the Navarin to a “t.”