Spicy Lamb Stew

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We love lamb around here, every which way—braised, roasted, grilled, and even made into meatballs. Here is a spicy lamb stew, that is almost beefy in taste. Think of it as a spicy lamb pot roast.

The recipe is adapted from The Niman Ranch Cookbook, where it is billed as a tagine, a savory Moroccan stew.

Lamb shoulder pieces are browned, and then slow cooked in stock and spices such as cumin, paprika, and cardamom.

Slow cooking, at a low, even temperature is important for the lamb shoulder to become tender. We cooked this stew on the stove-top, but you could easily make it in a slow-cooker or even a traditional Moroccan tagine.

Spicy Lamb Stew

Spicy Lamb Stew Recipe

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  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

You will get more flavor if you use less expensive lamb pieces that come bone-in, in which case you'll likely want to remove the bones before serving. Pick lamb pieces that have some fat.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lbs of lamb shoulder stew meat, cut into 1½-inch cubes
  • Olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 dry pasilla chiles, chopped, stems and most seeds removed
  • 1 Tbsp hot Hungarian paprika*
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of ground cardamon
  • 1½ cups chicken stock (use gluten-free stock for gluten-free version)
  • 14 oz of canned whole tomatoes, put through a food mill, or puréed
  • 8-10 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 4-5 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • Salt and pepper

* Hot Hungarian paprika is not the regular Hungarian paprika which is sweet and mild. It is even hotter than cayenne. If you don't have access to hot paprika, I would substitute 1/2 with sweet paprika and 1/2 with chili powder.

Method

1 Sear the lamb on all sides: Pat the lamb dry with a paper towel. Drying the lamb this way first will help the lamb pieces brown. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy, high-sided pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium high heat. When the pot is hot, add the lamb pieces in batches, being careful not to crowd them. Cook, turning as needed so that the lamb pieces brown evenly on all sides, for 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2 Sauté onions, peppers, chiles, garlic: Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the onions, dried peppers and red bell peppers and stir to coat with the oil in the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute.

3 Make a bouquet garni with parsley, thyme, bay leaf: Make a bouquet garni by placing the parsley, thyme and bay leaf in the center of a doubled over cheesecloth square. Gather the ends and secure with kitchen string.

4 Add spices, tomatoes, lamb, stock, raisins, herbs, simmer and cook: Stir in the paprika, cumin, and cardamom and cook for a minute. Add the puréed (or cooked tomatoes put through a food mill) tomatoes, lamb, chicken stock, raisins and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil over high heat, decrease heat to low. Cook, partially covered, for about 3 hours, or until lamb is tender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve over couscous or rice (gluten-free option).

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Recipe adapted from a Village Pub lamb tagine recipe in the Niman Ranch Cookbook.

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Showing 4 of 17 Comments

  • graeme bethune

    is hot hungarian paprika the same as hot smoked hungarian paprika?

  • Chandra

    I squeezed in half a lemon. Good stuff!

  • Cheryl

    We made this recipe tonight for the first time and it was fantastic, I did make a couple changes. During the last hour of simmering I added 1 cup Red wine – it gave it some extra body and I’d definitely recommend it.

    We also had it over fresh pasta – tonight – whole wheatchestnut pasta that I bought from Pastaworks in Portland, OR. We have whole wheat for tomorrow.

  • chiccup

    On my…totally delicious! Really.

    Normally, I like to try out the recipe As Is on the first go, then adjust it next time if needed, unfortunately, I had to make changes on the first go due to currently being in a small town where things are hard to get..so, with that said, this is what i changed:

    -Lamb Breast instead of lamb shoulder. Yes, it requires a lot of trimming and I also cut it to individual riblets…also, it’s fairly innexpensive.

    -No cardamon.

    -More raisins..like, 1/2 a box! I love getting sweet bites in savory foods. Also, I bought golden raisins..I find that they are more aesthetically suited for the dish.

    -3c of chicken stock

    -1lb. Stew beef.

    -1/2lb Red and Gold Baby potatoes; quartered.

    After cutting each breast into individual riblets, I trimmed the fat and browned them; set aside.

    I then tossed in the potatoes just to brown them a little, then set them aside.

    I added a little olive oil with a little piece of fat that I trimmed from the breast and browned the beef..I set it aside with the riblets.

    I then followed the recipe as directed..just adding 2c of stock, rather than 1.5c

    I cooked it for 2-3 hours, pulled out the riblets, deboned them, and cut them into bite size pieces prior to throwing them back, along with the extra cup of stock and potatoes.

    Cook for an additional hour. Done!

    …I will say though, you’ll need to do A LOT of skimming during the cooking process, but its so worth it. This part of the lamb is soooo flavorful and tender. Even the beef takes on the lamb flavor.

    I served it over brown rice that I scented with ginger while cooking and tossed with a little salt, olive oil, and fresh parsley…unfortunately, couscous doesn’t exist in this border town. Bummer.

  • Angela

    Wow – this even converted a couple of people who told me they don’t like lamb. Fantastic.

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