Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Growing up, we would have fondue every few months. My dad's big threat was that, if we didn't finish the beef, we would have stew the next day. It never came to pass, and I don't remember my mother ever serving us stew.

I came across this recipe in the L.A. Times as a Passover dish. (Served without rice or couscous on the side.) It's similar to tzimmes, with a distinctly north-African influence. Halfway through making it the first time, I realized it was a lamb stew. Once I tasted it, I decided it wasn't just stew, it was stoo. The real name is Lamb Tajine with Apricots, Saffron, and Ginger.

Saffron is the world's most expensive spice, on a par with many illegal drugs. Since you only use a pinch, there isn't much taste imparted. You can substitute a pinch of turmeric for the same color.

The sauce is fairly thin if you're serving it all at once, but it gets thicker for leftovers. You can also skim off the fat the next day. Like a brisket, leftovers are often better than the day it was made.

I'm listing the ingredients as they appeared, but the method is how I make it. This saves almost an hour of cooking time and cuts down on the number of dishes you have to wash.

2-1/2 lbs lamb shoulder chops (bone-in) or 2 lbs lamb stew meat
1-2 Tb olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
dash saffron threads (about 1/8 tsp)
salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
1-1/2 C water
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 3/4" dice
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
3/4 C dried apricots
1 C pitted prunes
1 Tb honey
1/3 C sliced almonds, toasted

1. Heat oil in large pot. Sautée onions until they begin to soften, 5 minutes. Add lamb and cook until browned, another 5 minutes. Add water, saffron, salt, and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, until lamb is tender.

2. If using bone-in lamb, remove lamb to a plate. Remove and discard bones and cut meat into stew-sized pieces. Return to pot. Add sweet potatoes, apricots, prunes, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until sweet potatoes are cooked.

3. Stir in honey and adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with the toasted almonds.

Serves 6

Difficulty rating :)

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