Having observed the martyrdom of my favorite Nazarene Jewish revolutionary of yore with the customary roast leg of lamb (incisions stuffed with garlic and rosemary) last weekend, I arrived home Sunday night with a lamb bone with a few scraps of meat left on it. So, popped that in a stock pot, with a couple of onions, a carrot, some salt and about a liter of water, and boiled it down for a few hours, till the bones were bleached and the meat could be scraped away from them, to melt in your mouth. Stored in the fridge overnight, removed fat layer the next evening.
Soaked a cup of navy beans the next day, then boiled for two hours with salt and kombu (to remove the wind factor).
At the same time, in a saucepan, sauted two small onions, lots of garlic, fennel seeds, a tin of diced tomatoes and a cup of chicken stock, with dried thyme and basil. After about a half hour, added the lamb stock/bones/meat, and a bit of water. Made a lovely ragout, to which I then added the beans, sauteed some kale in garlic and chile flakes, and served with rice.
A delicious stew that cost very little, made full use of leftovers (with attendant righteousness), and, most importantly, was absolutely delicious. Really hard to stop eating, a distinct, indescribable tang that was about a lot more than the tomato.
Trying to figure it out, I remembered this excellent radio insert on NPR recently about umami, the fifth taste added by Japanese researchers to the traditional quartet of sweet, sour, salty and bitter. NPR was trying to get to the root of what made things umami, that absolutely delicious can’t stop taste of, say, Miso soup. Or soy sauce. And the answer their subjects came up with was glutamates — one source of which was the extended boiling of meat bones.
From what I tasted tonight, I’d say they’re onto something.