(Full ingredient list and recipe instructions at bottom of this post.)
Nothing says “Spring!” less than six inches of snow still on the ground.
Regardless of the winter wonderland outdoors, we’re itching to cook with some springtime flavors. This lamb stew, while hearty enough for the chill weather, has the wonderfully bright flavors of lemon and green olives. And that’s on top of a whole range of aromatic Middle Eastern spices.
In the words of Brent: “This is the best thing we’ve made all winter.”
Let’s also hope it’s the last thing we make all winter. Since it’s now officially spring and all.
Let’s jump right in. First cube the lamb and prep the onions and garlic:
Once you’ve heated the oil in the pot, Add your meat to brown… in two batches. Never crowd browning meat. It’ll take three times as long.
Now, when we say “brown the meat,” we really mean brown. Many people just sorta “grey” it. Don’t. Get that heat really high, and leave the meat in till it smokes and gets crusty. It makes a huge difference in the final product.
Remove the meat and set it on a plate to rest…
Now saute the onions and garlic.
While they’re softening, quick slice up your carrots. Not too quick. Be careful with the knife of course. And also keep checking your onions and garlic…stir…stir…you don’t want them to scorch. Just soften and caramelize.
You can peel and mince the ginger now too. Just peel with a vegetable peeler.
And mince mince mince. (Setting you up for your own punchline there.)
How’re those onions and garlic looking? If they’re releasing any liquid, use it to scrape up the burned meat bits on the bottom of the pot. Scrape…scrape…
Add the carrots once the onions and garlic are softened. Give them a little saute.
Now add the white win and use it to scrape up any little bits left on the bottom of the pan.
Now the stock and tomatoes. Don’t the tomatoes look great? They’re from last summer.
Now all the spices. Doesn’t it look beautiful. All that color?
Stir it up. Stir. Stir.
While it’s coming back to a boil, get your lemon ready. Cut off the ends and quarter. (If it’s a big lemon, just use half.)
We know what you’re thinking…”you put the peel and everything in?!?” And yes, you do. The lemon slices melt down, and if any bitterness from the pith is released, it somehow just works with the other spice flavors. Trust us.
Once back to a boil, reduce the heat again. It’s gotta simmer for a few hours. Plenty of time to get the yogurt sauce ready. Chop the parsley (which goes into the yogurt sauce) and the cilantro (which is stirred right into the stew at the last minute of cooking.)
Zest a lemon to add to the yogurt sauce too.
Sunshine in a pitcher.
The stew needs to simmer and reduce for about 2 hours. The olives should only be added for the last 10 minutes or so. You don’t want them to cook into mush. There is a lot of salt in these olives too. You might wait to add the salt to the dish until after you add the olives.
After you’ve taken the stew off the heat, stir in the cilantro. You don’t want to cook it too much. Just warm it. Oh! Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods (if you can find them. If not, just alert your guests.)
We let guests add their own yogurt sauce. The cool yogurt really regulates all of the spices. A perfect combo.
What do you think? Does it look like spring yet?
SummaryThis flavorful lamb stew is brightened with lemon, green olives, and yogurt sauce.
Prep time: 30 Min
Cook time: 2 Hours30 Min
Total time: 3 Hours
3 lbs lamb shoulder, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
5 whole cardamom seed pods
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
4 large carrots, sliced thin
1 small lemon with ends cut off, sliced in half, then again ¼ slices. (If using large lemon, only use half.)
1 cup white wine
1 qt jar of diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups pitted fresh green olives
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 ½ cups plain yogurt (not greek)
Zest of one lemon
Heat oil over medium high heat in heavy, large covered dutch oven. When oil begins to “ripple” add half of the lamb cubes. Brown thoroughly, stirring occasionally. Approximately five minutes. Once browned, transfer to paper towel lined plate with slotted spoon. Add second half of lamb cubes. Repeat.
Once all meat is browned and removed from pot, pour off any excess fat/oil if necessary, leaving about 3 tablespoons behind. Saute garlic and onions in the oil until soft. Add carrots and ginger. Sautee for an additional 2 minutes. Add lemon and white wine. Scrape up bits of burned meat from bottom of pot. Add spices. Add tomatoes and stock. Transfer meat back to pot, bring to boil. Reduce to very low simmer.
Simmer uncovered for approximately 2 hours, or until meat is very tender. If liquid level seems to drop far below meat, add more stock or water. Allow sauce to reduce and thicken during the last 30 minutes.
Add olives during the last 10 minutes of simmering.
Remove from heat. Stir in chopped fresh cilantro.
Make yogurt sauce: combine yogurt, chopped parsley and lemon zest. Stir.
Serve stew hot either in bowl or over couscous. Pour ¼ cup yogurt sauce over individual servings.