Today is Valentine’s Day. It would also have been my dad’s 70th birthday. I was 18 years old when it happened. We never figured out what killed him – he had the doctors, specialists and pathologists scratching their heads while he was in ICU and my brother and I didn’t have Google back in 1997 to perform our own Dr Google diagnosis to try and challenge them. A bizarre, unidentifiable bacteria attacked his lungs and he was dead within weeks of getting a blocked nose. We all thought it was a bad case of the flu: it wasn’t. He had made a recent business trip to central Africa, but nothing identifiable came up on the pathology results after a battery of tests. It was – and still is – a medical mystery…
My worst birthday was four years ago when I realised I had lived longer on this earth without him than with him. Too bizarre a thought.. I can still smell him! I remember every detail of every pore on his skin, his hairline, the gap in his teeth, his laugh, his sense of humour, his integrity…… and his love of people, Roy Orbison, Elvis, wine .. and food! I could write a whole book about this incredible man who I like to refer to as the Wind Beneath My Wings.
Most (winter) Saturday mornings while my brother and I were still asleep, my dad, Ronald (who was a successful banker) would go to the shops and stock up ingredients for his famous stove-top potije (a stew in South Africa). He had swept and mopped the kitchen floors and had mowed the lawn before my brother and I even opened an eyelid. By 10am, the smell of his stew slowly cooking away in the kitchen – along with the smell of fresh bread rolls – would lure us like lanky, hungry teenagers into the kitchen. Of course, we weren’t allowed in because the floors were still wet!
Later in the day, while he sat devouring his Saturday newspapers and settled into watching rugby or cricket on TV, sipping his G&T or dry white wine, the smell of the stew wafted intensely throughout the house, assaulting all our senses. If we were careful enough, we could tip-toe into the kitchen and lift the heavy lid of the cast-iron pot with a tea towel; carefully open the brown packet of bread rolls and dip one into the stew sauce… HEAVEN! But it was always followed by a loud “I can hear you! Leave it alone, don’t touch it!” LOL.. Oh daddy, he had eyes on the back of his head, just as he warned my boyfriends!
We loved each other intensely, Dad and I. He knew how much I loved him and I knew he was proud of me. I could grieve (and still do) without guilt, what-if’s or should-have’s. I am not sure many people can say that when they lose someone.
Many years later, when I tried to recreate my dad’s lamb stew, I phoned and emailed all my uncles, my dad’s friends, my brother: ‘can you remember what Dad did? What recipe did he follow?‘ – no one could help me. He didn’t follow a recipe. He simply threw it all in a cast-iron pot and it tasted good because he made it with such love, passion and patience.
My recipe below will never be as good as Dad’s .. not even close. It’s just a simple lamb stew in a tomato-based sauce with some vegetables I remember mopping up. He is probably looking down, commenting on things I left out.. but I (now as a chef) can look back up and say, “oh but Daddy, you forgot about the Maillard Reaction …” LOL! Yes, I added few cheffy tips along the way to get the best results. In my own limited capacity, this is the only way I know how to honour him. Thank you for reading.
(Recipe below serves 5-6 people. Macros calculated on a 300g / 10.5oz serving. Enjoy served over Cauliflower Mash, Cauliflower Rice or Keto Rosemary Rolls, as pictured (that recipe features in my second cookbook LAZY KETO KITCHEN, 2021).
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Carbs 12g | Fat 28g | Protein 43g
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Fats of Life® is a blog that I run as a hobby, but did you know that I am also the author of two cookbooks? My first book Keto Kitchen (published by Kyle Books in 2020) is available worldwide (and has remained one of the best-selling low carb cookbooks in the UK). My second book Lazy Keto Kitchen (coming mid-year, 2021) is currently available to pre-order.
“I want you to achieve the best outcome with all the recipes on Fats of Life. If you haven’t already done so, please read the RECIPE SUCCESS page which is packed with handy tips and advice. Happy Cooking, everyone!” – Monya
Ronald's Lamb & Tomato Stew
- 2 TB lard
- 850 g (30 oz) diced lamb
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 250 g (8.8 oz) chestnut mushrooms, quartered
- 60 g (2.1 oz) red wine
- 2 tins chopped / crushed tomatoes
- 400 g (14.1 oz) beef stock
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 200 g (7.1 oz) courgette, sliced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the lard in a large pan and brown the lamb chunks in two or three batches. They should be golden and caramelised on the outside. This was commonly (and incorrectly) referred to as 'sealing meat' - but that is a myth. All we are doing is searing it: taking advantage of the extra flavour delivered when meat is caramelised and browned. This is known as the Maillard Reaction. Doing this over high heat - and in batches - is essential. If you over-crowd the pan, the meat will simply boil away in their own juices and won't caramelise. Remove the lamb with tongs and set aside.
- Have all your other ingredients prepped and ready.
- Using the rendered fat and oil still present in the same pan, add the onions and cook until softened and caramelised.
- Add the mushrooms and garlic and continue for an additional 3-4 minutes over high heat, stirring continuously to avoid the garlic burning.
- Deglaze the pan with the red wine and cook until the wine cooks out completely.
- Return the browned meat to the pan, add the chopped tomatoes and pour in the beef stock. Stir in the dried thyme and dried rosemary.
- Cover partially with a lid, cooking for 90 minutes over low-moderate heat.
- After 90 minutes, add the sliced courgettes and cook, without a lid, for another 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After 3 hours, the sauce would have reduced sufficiently. Season the stew with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve with cauliflower mash, cauliflower rice or Mini Keto Rosemary Rolls.
For those on INSTAGRAM, tag me @mkilianpalmer so we can all see your lovely creations! Keep scrolling: you can PIN this recipe for later, see detailed macros and browse other recipes in this category. You can also drop me a comment if you have any questions about this recipe. I will do my best to reply as quickly as possible. Monya xxx
Nutritional Information per serving
Calories 460Kcal / 1925kJ
Celery (present in store-bought beef stock)
Sulphites (present in the wine)
See all the Beef & Lamb recipes on Fats of Life:
Disclaimer: The nutritional analysis, macro and allergen breakdown of the recipes on this site have been manually and carefully calculated using the cloud-based software NUTRITICS®. NUTRITICS® is fully approved by the relevant Trading Standards organizations and is EU and FDA-compliant. The macro calculations are provided as a courtesy to you based on the author's weighing of ingredients when creating the dishes. If Erythritol (a sugar polyol) has been used in any of the recipes, it has already been manually excluded from the final carbohydrate count. The author is a chef - not a medical professional - and this website has been designed to provide you with recipe ideas to suit the low carb lifestyle you have discussed with your GP.