Lamb & Black Pepper Stew / Pebre

by Sam Bilton on September 15, 2017 No comments

From Vicky Hayward’s translation of The New Art of Cookery by Juan Altamiras.

For pebre prepare your meat servings, brown them in your stewpot and take note of their weight so your other ingredients are in proportion. Pound garlic, salt and peppercorns together in your metal mortar, wash them into the olla with water, throw in bay leaves and, for thirty servings, a pound of olive oil and a cured ham bone. Even a bone with very little meat on it gives a lot of flavour to a stew. Now put it to cook over a gentle fire and, when it is done, dress it with a handful of parsley, pounded hard boiled eggs thinned with the stews juice, some sharp citrus juice or, even better, tomatoes. Let all this simmer together for a while. It is a very good, tasty dish to serve every so often, but take note, the flavours are more intense than in other stews.

The quantities provided in Vicky Hayward’s adaptation of Altamiras’ recipe seem very generous because the weight given is for braising lamb on the bone. She does note that the recipe works well with lamb shanks too. I have used boned lamb and made a few minor alterations of my own to make it more suitable for 4-6 people (in part because sourcing a ham bone, especially a small one, could be quite tricky unless you know a friendly butcher!). By all means stick to Vicky’s original recipe – I can vouch for it’s deliciousness.

Vicky’s Ingredients

  • 1 ½ kg braising lamb or mutton, cubed and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 250ml fruity olive oil
  • 6 chopped garlic cloves
  • Black peppercorns to taste e.g 12-24
  • A small wine glass of water
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 250g cured ham bone
  • Small handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 mashed hard boiled eggs
  • 400g skinned and chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lemon

My ingredients

  • 750g braising lamb or mutton, cubed and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 125ml fruity olive oil
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • Generous pinch of coarse sea salt
  • ½-1 tsp black peppercorns (enough to impart a warmth rather than smack you in the taste buds)
  • 60ml water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 slices of Serrano ham, finely chopped
  • Small handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 mashed hard boiled egg
  • 200g skinned and chopped tomatoes
  • Squeeze of lemon


  1. Brown the seasoned lamb in batches in a little of the olive oil and when it is all done, put it in an earthenware casserole with a lid on top to cook slowly for about 10-15 minutes (up to 45 minutes for mutton).
  2. Pound the garlic and peppercorns in a mortar, wash them into the meat with the water, add the bayleaves, the rest of the olive oil – cold – and the ham (or bone if using). Arrange everything so that it is covered by liquid, replace the lid and cook, bubbling lazily over a low heat for 1¼ hours for lamb. Open up occasionally to turn everything over and ensure there is no sticking. My hob is rather fierce so I have cooked this stew in the slow cooker for the same amount of time on a low setting. Alternatively, you can cook it in a low oven (say 120℃) for about 1 hour. In both cases bringing the contents to the boil first.
  3. When the meat is nearly done, take out the ham bone (if using), cut off any chunks or shreds of meat on it and fork them back into the stew with the parsley, mashed hard boiled egg, and tomato. Check the seasoning and cook gently for another 20-30 minutes. Best made a day ahead then warmed through just before serving.
Sam BiltonLamb & Black Pepper Stew / Pebre

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