Tavë me Presh (Albanian Lamb and Vegetable Stew)

Root vegetables and ground lamb are transformed into a rich, hearty stew in this baked dish. This recipe first appeared in the November 2013 iPad edition of SAVEUR along with Francine Prose’s story “Eastern Promise.”

SERVES 6–8

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 lb. leeks, trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise and cut ¾” thick crosswise
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 large bulb fennel, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2 lb. ground lamb
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped oregano
  • 1½ tbsp. finely chopped thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 14-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400°. Melt butter in an 8-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12–15 minutes. Add garlic, carrots, fennel, onion, and bell pepper; cook, stirring, until soft, 18–20 minutes. Add lamb and cook, stirring and breaking up meat into large pieces, until just browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, 2–3 minutes. Stir in stock, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, tomatoes, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Transfer to the oven; cook, uncovered, until browned on top, 20–25 minutes.