Lamb stew meat can, of course, be used, too. And beef stew or pork stew cuts as well. Lamb broth would be ideal here, but it’s not as commonly found or made as other broths. Vegetable broth is a good sub.
6 thick slices bacon
2 1/2 lbs lamb shoulder chops or shoulder blade chops, bone-in
2 lbs potatoes, quartered
2 large onions, peeled, quartered
2 large carrots, scrubbed, cut into 2-inch segments
1 or 2 turnips, roughly chopped
2 T pearl barley, optional
1 t dried thyme, or 1 T chopped fresh thyme
salt and black pepper, to taste
4 c water or vegetable broth, warmed
fresh chopped parsley, for garnish, optional
1. Heat a large (6 qt), thick-bottomed Dutch oven on medium heat. Gently cook the bacon, rendering its fat, for a few minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. When cooled, chop and set aside.
2. Remove all but 2 T of bacon fat from pan. Increase the heat to medium high. Working in batches, brown the lamb pieces on all sides. Remove pieces as they brown.
3. Layer the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven, as best as you can. Start with meat, then vegetables, chopped bacon, another layer of meat, etc. Or just mix them all together. Add the barley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a bare simmer. Let simmer, with the lid slightly ajar, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is falling-off-the-bones tender.
4. Skim any excess fat from the pan. Use tongs to pick out and remove bones (or not). Taste for seasonings. Sprinkle with parsley, if you like.