Recipe for Lamb Stew with Sweet Tomato Jam

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.

Lamb with Sweet Tomato Jam, a Moroccan-style lamb stew, cooked in a 'jam' of onions and fresh 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.

ALANNA’s TIPS No Farmgirl lamb nearby? Either beef or pork would work, so would an inexpensive and meaty turkey breast. I thought about chopping the onion in the food processor but grating it with an inexpensive hand grater worked like a charm and conveniently slips into the dishwasher afterward. Besides, the hand grater is needed for the tomatoes, a marvelous tool for grating the flesh but leaving behind the skins to be discarded. If you have a tagine, go ahead, use it. I recommend checking the stew every 15 minutes or so as it cooks. If the tomato-onion mixture cooks down too fast, add liquid so that it doesn’t burn. Be aware that when made with a generous one-pound roast, the servings ‘seem’ small. But this was a filling, satisfying meal, the way a meal should be when the meat is both raised and prepared with love.


Hands-on time: 35 minutes up-front plus occasional attention throughout
Time to table: 2-1/2 hours
Serves 4
  • 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.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Serving: 315 Calories; 18g Tot Fat; 7g Sat Fat; 59mg Cholesterol; 75mg Sodium; 18g Carb; 5g Fiber; 10g Sugar; 18g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 7 & WW Points Plus 8. CALORIE COUNTERS for 100-calorie servings, divide into 12 servings.
Adapted from The Food of Morocco

Naturally Raised, Grass-Fed Lamb and Beef in St. Louis

Eggs, carrots and fresh herbs, a gift from Farmgirl.

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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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Any thoughts on how this might work in the slow cooker?

  2. Jasmne ~ I think the lamb stew would work great in a slow cooker, though because of the sugars in the tomato, might add more liquid or perhaps just keep an eye on the stew as it cooks. We don't want to waste good lamb!


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