My first real night of cooking in my apartment called for one of my favorite meats: lamb. “Real” as in I’m-home-alone-for-the-first-time-in-a-long-time and I-don’t-mind-any-minute-of-it kind of real. I stopped by the halal meat market in my neighborhood where I patiently waited for the lady to slice off the loin from the whole lamb into manageable chunks. I keep coming back to this store because the lamb is crazy cheap; I just have to deal with their Island Time and re-explain how I like the ribs with the long handle bones intact and accept the fact that when I ask for ground lamb, the response will always be: I don’t have time to ground meat right now, even though I’m the only one in the store. (I have since bought my own food grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer.)
Look at that lamb though! They would easily cost more than $25 at Whole Foods but that lot cost me $12 here in Harlem. I don’t know enough about halal meat and still don’t know why it smells differently than, say, gourmet lamb meat from New Zealand, but they make a good meal every time.
2 1/2 pounds lamb loin, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 32-ounce container low-sodium chicken broth
1 10-ounce box couscous
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
half a bag of baby carrots
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
zest of 1/2 lemon, grated
a handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
a handful of parsley leaves, roughly chopped
3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 tsps paprika
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and 2 tbsps of olive oil. Add the lamb, seal, and shake to coat. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
2. Heat the remaining oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook for 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add some of the lamb to the pot and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining lamb. Return the lamb to the pot along with the onion and carrots. Add the garlic, ginger, and zest and stir.
4. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, parsley, and olives.