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Catalan Stewed Lamb with Potatoes and Green Olives

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4 to 6

Olives offer a salty contrast to rich, tender pieces of lamb in this hearty dish. The starch from the potatoes thickens the stew. Bone-in lamb pieces are traditional, but boneless lamb makes for easier eating; the choice is yours.


  • 2-1/2 lb. boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces, or bone-in lamb, such as shoulder, shank, or neck, cut into 1-1/2- to 2-oz. pieces (ask your butcher to do this)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil; more as needed
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, halved, seeded, and grated
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1-1/2 cups unsalted chicken or beef stock; more as needed
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2-1/2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 large), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup unpitted green olives, such as manzanilla, Cerignola, or Castelvetrano, rinsed
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 690
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 330
  • Fat (g): 37
  • Saturated Fat (g): 13
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 16
  • Cholesterol (mg): 130
  • Sodium (mg): 610
  • Carbohydrates (g): 44
  • Fiber (g): 4
  • Protein (g): 39


  • Pat the lamb dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the oil in a 12-1/2-inch cassola (on a heat diffuser if recommended by the manufacturer) over medium-high heat. Working in batches so as not to crowd the cassola, brown the lamb on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch, adding more oil as needed. Transfer each batch to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to low, and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently and then tapping down the mixture with the back of a wooden spoon until thickened and darker, 10 to 15 minutes, adding a little water as necessary to keep it from drying out and sticking.
  • Return the lamb to the cassola and turn to coat well. Drizzle with the wine, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and bay leaf, increase the heat to medium high, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover with a large pot lid or foil, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes if using bone-in lamb or 30 minutes if using boneless.
  • Add the potatoes and olives, replace the lid slightly ajar, and cook over low heat until the lamb and potatoes are fork-tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour, adding more stock if needed to keep the sauce moist. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve from the cassola with the bread, and be sure to warn everyone about the olive pits.


A cassola is a traditional Catalan shallow terra-cotta casserole dish. When shopping for one anywhere outside of Catalonia, you’ll most likely see it called by its Spanish name, cazuela.  Some manufacturers recommend using a heat diffuser to protect the cassola from direct flame and help the food cook more evenly. If you don’t have a cassola, you can use a 12-inch-wide heavy-duty Dutch oven or straight-sided skillet instead.


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Reviews (4 reviews)

  • CSolar | 11/21/2018

    This was OK, but I also found it a bit bland and heavy. It seemed to need something to brighten up the flavors. It was surprising to notice the article describes how in Catalan cuisine, a 'picada' (garlic, herbs, almond) is stirred in at the end of cooking -- yet for some reason this stew does not include it! In retrospect, it would have been a lot more interesting with the help of a picada.

  • MsMatisse | 11/12/2017

    I agree with dick_c - it is a bit bland and probably needs a
    little more zesty spices.

  • dick_c | 02/05/2016

    I was disappointed with the blandness of this recipe. I followed the recipe to the letter, but I would have expected more flavor from a Spanish dish. This recipe could use more spices; just salt and pepper doesn't do it.

  • AmyBoone | 01/24/2016

    The best lamb stew I've ever tasted and family loved the flavors. The lamb turned out tender and moist. Served with crusty rosemary and garlic bread. The only challenge I had with this dish was that the gravy/sauce did not thicken as expected. Leftovers did thicken and were delicious as well. Definitely will make this one again!

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