Le barboton is a lamb stew with large dices of potato and slices of carrot. The point about this dish is that, as opposed to many other more sophisticated stews, the whole thing uses one pot from start to finish.
The dish originates from the area of Saint Etienne and the nearby Forez mountain range. In days gone by the locals would reserve this dish for Sundays as lamb was considered a luxury meat.
In the video I use equal portions of butter and oil in which to start cooking the onions and lamb. If you were to use lard, this would be even more old-school and bang on the money as far as I am concerned. Likewise, the practice of thickening the broth with a beurre manié, as demonstrated in the video, is valid for just about any stew. However, one could mash one of the cooked potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the sauce. I’m certain this version (with both of the above modifications) would be irrefutably authentic!
1 kg thickly sliced lamb neck, or shoulder
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, sliced
lardon of bacon or salt pork
2 garlic cloves, minced
light meat stock (chicken or veal) or water
a bouquet of thyme, bay and parsley
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
salt and petter
In a heavy stewing pot, stir the onions and lardons over low heat until the onions soften. Add the pieces of lamb and stir everything around until the lamb is slightly brown. Add the garlic, cook a little more and then add the carrots and potatoes. Mix all this up, season with salt and pepper and add the stock, or water to barely cover the solids. Bring the pot to a boil and immediately turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Drop in the bouquet garni and cook until the lamb is meltingly tender; this will take from between one to two hours.
Mix together the butter and flour to make a smooth paste (beurre manié) and drop small pieces into the stew, gently whisking or stirring them into the liquid. Give the pot a good shake to finish mixing it all in. This will thicken the stew within seconds. Thereafter, do not allow the sauce to boil again as this will spoil the taste. Correct the seasoning if necessary, and serve
I can’t wait to shoot this recipe on location in les Monts du Forez. Perhaps one of the locals may be able to tell be how the stew got its name – “Barboton”. If anyone can shed any light, do let me know!