Lamb Stew with Lemons and Olives

lamb stew with lemons and olives

It’s still frigid outside, and we had nowhere to be yesterday, so after brunch, Mike read comics and cocktail books, and I thawed some lamb neck slices and curled up with the cats to watch Tony Bourdain eat warthog anus in Namibia. Much to my surprise, this did not kill my appetite permanently.

My plan for dinner was to make a lamb stew, but my usual preparation (red wine, root vegetables, herbes de provence) wasn’t really sending me. We still had Meyer lemons on hand, so I decided to use those, along with some olives, tomato, and warm spices like coriander, cumin and cinnamon.

I seasoned the lamb slices with salt and pepper, then dredged them in a bit of flour before adding them two at a time to the Le Creuset to brown in olive oil. I set the lamb slices aside, and added half a red onion, chopped, to the pan, sprinkled on a pinch of kosher salt, and allowed it to soften. I added three smashed peeled garlic cloves next, along with a tablespoon or so of tomato paste. I let the tomato paste begin to caramelize before mixing it into the onion and garlic. Next came the spices – a tablespoon of coriander seeds, half a tablespoon of ground cinnamon, and two tablespoons of ground cumin, which were stirred into the onion mixture.

I poured in a cup of red wine and a cup of crushed tomatoes, then added two Meyer lemons, seeded and chopped, plus one bay leaf. The lamb went back into the pot, and I added about 1/4 cup of water – just enough to bring the level of the liquid up to the tops of the lamb pieces. I placed the lid on the pan and let it come to a boil, then reduced the heat and let it simmer away for two hours, stirring it from time to time.

I added half a cup of pitted mixed olives about half an hour before the stew was done so they would add their flavor but not break down. I figured the olives would add some saltiness to the stew, so I waited to adjust the seasoning until the olives had cooked for a bit (and as it turned out, it didn’t need to be re-salted at all). I served the stew over couscous, and finished it with a bit of chopped flat-leaf parsley and a grating of lemon zest.

I was really pleased with the combination of flavors here – the sweet-tart taste of the lemon and the tang of the tomatoes and olives were a nice bright counterpoint to the rich lamb, and the spices were warm and heady. I’m definitely going to make this again soon.

Wine Note: We drank 2004 Ey Vigne Las Collas Grenache, an old vines Grenache with delicious smoke, pepper, and spice notes.

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