The Hunger Games: Spiced Lamb Stew with Dried Plums, Tomatoes, Almonds, and Sesame

26 01 2012

I will admit inspiration from The Hunger Games.

Lamb’s natural flavor is so strong that it can support a serious amount of spice, hence adding a pinch of practically everything in your cupboard followed by hours of simmering. It fills every nook in your house with scents, warm cinnamon and nutmeg and cardamom, then sweetens the deal with engorged plums that melt their sticky way into the broth and wine. Chile flakes and slivers of mint alternatively lift and cool, and a sprinkled nutty crunch of crushed almonds and sesame seeds completes the panorama. Make no mistake, stewed lamb meat is the focus here – the symphony of additional elements simply serves as suitable tribute.

The flavor profile is Turkish in inspiration, but completely adaptable to whatever you’ve got on hand. This is an over-the-top Impress dish, best served with a spread of brown jasmine rice and hunks of fresh crusty bread.

Spiced Lamb Stew with Dried Plums, Tomatoes, Almonds, and Sesame

1 1/2 yellow onions, sliced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 leg of bone-in lamb – mine clocked in just shy of a kilo, or approximately 2 lbs – removed from the bone and cut into 1′ pieces

2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes (or more…)
1 tablespoon Galician honey
1 tablespoon molasses
zest of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste

8-12 dried plums, pits removed and roughly chopped
28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes in their juice
1 1/2 c dry red wine
stock – I used chicken

cooked brown jasmine rice, for serving
crushed almonds
sesame seeds
torn mint leaves

1. Sautée onions, garlic, and ginger in butter over low heat until onion softens.

2. Mix in pieces of lamb, then spices, honey, molasses, lemon zest, and salt.

3. Add dried plum pieces, tomatoes and their juice, red wine, and 1 cup stock, plus the reserved lamb bones; bring to a simmer.

4. Let simmer for at least three hours, adding stock as necessary and occasionally skimming the surface of the accumulated fat. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

5. Remove bones and cinnamon sticks. Ladle atop fresh brown jasmine rice and serve sprinkled with crushed almonds, sesame seeds, and torn mint leaves.


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