Braised lamb stew with barley and vegetables

Karen Martini's braised lamb stew with barley and vegetables.
Karen Martini's braised lamb stew with barley and vegetables. Photo: Marina Oliphant

This braise is basically an old style lamb stew with a little hint of spice and a handful of barley for texture. It is my go-to dish when I don't have much time and need to throw something together.


1kg lamb shoulder, with some fat left on and cut in large dice (about 4 cm)

salt flakes

freshly ground black pepper

2 large brown onions, peeled and sliced in thick rounds

6 cloves garlic, smashed, skin on

2 fresh bay leaves

5 sprigs thyme

5 allspice berries, ground   

2 medium carrots, peeled and quartered

3 stalks celery, sliced thickly

2 parsnips, peeled, cored and cut in chunks

450ml dry white wine

500ml chicken stock

50g barley


1. Preheat the oven to 170C fan-forced or 190C conventional.

2. In a large heavy pot over high heat, brown the pieces of lamb in their own fat (add some olive oil if necessary) in batches so as not to crowd the pan, and make sure you get good deep colour on the meat. Season generously and set aside.

3. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and allspice (and oil if needed) and cook for four minutes. Add the carrots, celery and parsnips and cook for 10 minutes.

4. Add the meat back to the pot with the wine and reduce by half, then add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, add the barley, then cover and cook in the oven for one-and-a-half hours. Remove the lid for the last half hour of cooking.

5. Remove from the oven and adjust the seasoning if necessary. You can reduce the sauce if you like (before correcting the seasoning). Serve as is, or toss in some blanched winter greens for a complete meal.

Tip Shoulder is great for braises, but try to buy it in one piece if you can so you can cut large dice. This will allow you to caramelise the outside but also end up with tender, rich meat.

Serves 4-6

Styling Andrea Geisler
Textured linen Manon