Thursday, March 27, 2008

Curried Lamb Stew


With some leftover Easter lamb and a fridge brimming with ingredients just begging to be used, I decided to make this African-inspired Curried Lamb Stew.

It was so good. So yummy in fact that I wouldn't change a thing. Okay, maybe one thing: it could use more heat. But it was delicious as-is for my lunch guests who prefer very little spice. For me, in the future, I'll add some cayenne pepper--a good 2 teaspoons to start with.

Curried Lamb Stew
serves 6-8 dinner portions

This would be delicious with some couscous or quinoa cooked in a weak broth with some peanuts mixed in for crunch!

olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
5 cloves garlic (smashed, peeled and minced)
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2-1/2 pounds lamb for stew (I used leftover cooked leg of lamb, cut into chunks)
8 cups low-salt chicken broth (if not low-salt, omit salt, below)
1 bay leaf
about 2 cups pitted dried plums (I used a 9-ounce box; could also use a mixture of prunes and raisins)
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper or grains of paradise
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 cup natural-style peanut butter (crunchy or creamy, as desired; I used creamy)

1. In a large skillet set over medium heat, saute onion, carrots and celery in olive oil until onions are transparent; add garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Transfer to a large soup pot, slow cooker or oven-safe large crock/dutch oven.

Now, I used the oven method, which is how I will explain the directions here; keep in mind that cooking a stew in the oven at 350*F is the equivalent of a stove-top simmer, so the timing will be the same.

2. In the same skillet, brown lamb stew meat on all sides; transfer to large pot with onion mixture. Add chicken broth, bay leaf, dried plums, sweet potatoes, salt, pepper and curry powder. Cook, covered, in preheated 350*F oven for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

3. Remove from oven; stir in coconut milk and peanut butter. Taste and correct seasoning, if needed. Return to oven for 1-1/2 hours more, stirring occasionally, or until lamb is fork-tender.

Note: Be careful not to allow the peanut butter to scorch. You may want to reduce the oven temperature to 250*F.

I served this stew with greek yogurt and sliced bananas, along with chipotle peppers in adobo for individual use.

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