A Moroccan-style lamb stew, cooked in a savory “jam" (which really isn't a jam at all) made with onions and fresh summer tomatoes, seasoned with cinnamon, saffron and honey.
One hand, it’s enough to count the times lamb has reached my plate, let alone my stove. But I’m learning!
When you buy a whole lamb (or a whole hog or a whole steer or a whole elk, say), you fly through the chops, steaks and tenderloins. And then you’re left with a freezerful of the so-called ‘lesser cuts’ that need a little TLC to cook. (TLC? That would mean Time, Largess and Curiosity.)
Confession: I so do not “get" cuts of meat, my eyes glaze over at those butcher diagrams showing the loins and hams and the sirloins and butts (which are actually shoulders, by the way, confusing me even more). Buying a whole animal for the freezer, it’s this former-vegetarian's, still-meat-squeamish cook’s attempt to learn my way through the less-expensive just-as-tasty pieces of meat.
This is the first lamb dish made with meat raised by Farmgirl herself! (Don’t know Farmgirl? You’ll love her farm blog that’s part photo reverie, part easy recipes, part I-can’t-live-on-a-farm-myself-but-I-can-close-my-eyes-and-dream.)
It’s a perfect early-fall dish when the temperatures drop a bit but fresh tomatoes are still available. The meaty chunks are fall-off-the-fork tender. The “jam" isn’t really “jam" at all but a sweet-ish onion, tomato and cinnamon mixture, too thick to be called gravy, something more akin to the wine wrap of Beef Bourguigon, sweetened still further by honey too, if you like.
LAMB STEW RECIPE
with SWEET TOTATO JAM
Time to table: 2-1/2 hours
MEAT (LAMB, BEEF, PORK, even TURKEY)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-1/2 – 2 pounds lamb roast (see TIPS), fat trimmed, meat cut into one-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon water (or more olive oil)
- 2 onions, trimmed and grated (see TIPS)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads soaked in a teaspoon of water, optional
- 4 large tomatoes (about 2 pounds), stem end removed, flesh grated, skins discarded (see TIPS)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons honey or agave, optional
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
MEAT In a large skillet with a cover or a Dutch oven (see TIPS), heat the olive oil until shimmery. Add the meat pieces as they’re prepped, letting them brown on one side for several minutes before moving. Set aside the meat and juices.
”TOMATO JAM" In the same skillet, heat the water or olive oil until shimmery. Add the onion and cook until just beginning to brown. Add the garlic, ginger, pepper and saffron and cook for a minute. Add the grated tomatoes, tomato paste and cinnamon stick. Stir in the cooked lamb.
COOK Cover and simmer gently for 1-1/4 hours (see TIPS).
THICKEN Set the lid ajar a bit, simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
SWEETEN Stir in the honey and ground cinnamon, simmer for 5 minutes.
SERVE Serve with couscous or brown rice. Can be made ahead and reheated.
Naturally Raised, Grass-Fed Lamb and Beef in St. Louis
For anyone wondering where to buy naturally raised, pasture-grazed meat in St. Louis, my friend Susan who blogs at Farmgirl Fare raises sheep and cattle in southeastern Missouri and makes regular trips to St. Louis with deliveries. So far, we've purchased lamb from Susan and the meat is just beautiful, the "best lamb ever tasted" according to one long-time lamb eater. Reach Susan via e-mail at farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.
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