Bruce Dern’s Lamb Stew

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With his performance as the hard-drinking, slow-talking Woody Grant in Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” Bruce Dern is back in the spotlight. That had us thinking of his favorite, winter-hearty lamb stew recipe.  In 1975, just after starring in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Deceit (Family Plot), Bruce Dern shared it with United Airlines’ Mainliner magazine. We’ve reprinted (and adapted) it with permission here. Unusual in that it does include any potatoes, but asks you to add dumplings at the end (sorry–no recipe for those provided by Bruce) we think this tomatoey stew  goes well with fresh, crusty bread or rice.

Makes 6 servings


  • 2 oz olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 lb. boneless leg of lamb, or lamb shoulder, cut in cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1, 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 tsp thyme
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 3 stalks of celery, medium dice
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 16 small white onions
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp chopped parsley


  1. Heat oil in large stew pot. Saute onions until soft, adding a little water to prevent sticking or browning. Add trimmed, cubed lamb. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown on all sides.brucedernftballstewingredients
  2. Heat chicken broth. Add this with tomato sauce to the pot with thyme, garlic clove and bay leaf. When liquid is boiling, lower the flame, cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally
  3. After one hour, add celery and carrot to stew pot with whole, peeled tiny onions. Cover again and simmer for another hour.
  4. Add mushrooms. Cover and cook 1/2 hour more until meat is very tender. Remove garlic clove and bay leaf. Let stew stand for a few minutes. Sprinkle each serving with parsley. Serve with home-made dumplings, rice, or potatoes

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