Monday, May 28, 2012

Navarin Printanier

Navarin Printanier
Nothing says springtime like a Navarin Printanier!  In French Country Cooking, Elizabeth David states that that a Navarin Printanier " a ragoût of lamb or mutton to which spring vegetables give special character."  But to me, it is the name, a springtime ragout, that brings forth thoughts of putting in the vegetable garden, picking the first crops of spring, foraging for perennials and wild plants, and finally eating fresh vegetables again.  Indeed, most of my summers are spent eating fruits and vegetables.  The other aspect of the traditional Navarin Printanier that brings forth springtime memories is the taste of that ragout, the combination of the turnips with the lamb and the peas is unique, and to me, special.  It's special because I love those flavors and also because my husband and I had the most delicious Navarin Printanier one year in Paris, one that I will never forget.

Elizabeth David's recipe calls for " potatoes, a small bunch of new carrots, and a few baby turnips...[as well as] 1 1/2 lbs. of green peas, freshly shelled...."  I'm not sure where in the world these different foods are all available in the same season, and especially in spring.  In springtime in north Idaho, the potatoes, carrots, and turnips must be bought locally or have over-wintered in the root cellar or the garden.  The peas are a "maybe" for May, although they do appear in June.  But all of that doesn't really matter because I am driven to make this dish every spring no matter where I find my vegetables.  The lamb is never a problem because I always have some locally raised lamb in the freezer.

One vegetable that does appear in May is asparagus and we eat as much as we can.  Thus, it appears on the plate, but not mixed in with the traditional dish.  In honor of its name, I served the Navarin after a day of working in the garden, tilling the soil, planting some seeds and starts, pruning the grape vines, and all those other activities that must go into a garden for bounty in the summer.  The dish was tasted the same as I always remember it.  It's not as beautiful as I have sometimes made it.  And the photo is not the best because I had to use my phone, my usual camera appearing to be broken forever.  But no the photo could do justice to the memories of Navarin Printanier that inspire me every spring.

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