Basque Leftovers


If you’ve ever eaten at one of Northern Nevada’s authentic Basque restaurants, you’ll realize the practicality of this topic. There will be leftovers. These eateries got their start feeding hungry ranch crews. A constant parade of side dishes preamble the main course and unless you know how to pace yourself, you’ll be too stuffed to eat that massive pile of meat they set in front of you midway through the meal. Don’t worry. They’ll expect you to ask for a take-home container. Since lamb is the traditional American Basque staple, chances are lamb stew is in your future. Here’s two ways we make it at our house.

Tried and True Lamb Stew

Cut the left over lamb into bite-size pieces. Set it aside. Sauté chopped onions in a generous cast iron stew pot until they’re transparent, then add vegetable or beef broth, chopped carrots, celery, potatoes, parsley, bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the veggies until they’re soft, add the meat, then simmer until everything is hot. Mmmmm… Great Basin comfort food!

Basque-Morrocan Fusion Stew

This version of lamb stew came about when our leftovers included solomo and lamb. Solomo is pork loin smothered in roasted whole pimentos and onions. Chop up the meat, pimentos, and onions and put it all in a stew pot along with the garlic and sauces/drippings from the leftover containers. Add vegetable broth, chopped carrots, celery, a handful of dried apricots and mint leaves. (You can also add small chunks of sweet potato if you have them.) Spice the stew with cumin and lemon zest. Simmer until the veggies and apricot pieces are tender and the flavors blend. If you make it thick, you can serve it over rice or couscous, otherwise, serve in bowls with sourdough toast. The sourdough compliments the sweetness of the apricots.

As they say in Basque, “Primerakoa zegoen” ~ it was delicious!