I had a craving for lamb after spending the last two weekends eating smoked salmon for breakfast. After all that fish, I specifically wanted a leg of lamb slowly simmering in a Dutch oven, falling apart after a few hours. I had just that with this recipe I adapted from a tagine one. I bought a beautiful 2-pound leg of lamb from Whole Foods because unfortunately, Chinatown doesn’t carry much lamb meat, so I always have to spend extra money when I want a good cut of lamb. The Halal stores in Harlem sell a lot of them, but never the good cuts, in my opinion.
This recipe is a testament to how easy it is to make dinner for one that could be reheated for the next couple of days, or for a small group in one seating. Once you master how to brown your meat, sauté the herbs and simmer on your stovetop or braise in the oven for a few hours, you can have whatever you want as a stew; changing up the accompanying ingredients will just make your dish appropriate for the current season.
3 slices of bacon, chopped
1 lamb leg, about 2 lbs
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 sticks of cinnamon, crushed
1 tsp coriander, ground
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 package apricot preserves
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 20-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup raisins
a handful parsley, chopped
half a preserved lemon, chopped
1. In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon over low heat for about 10 minutes to render the fat. Remove the bacon and set aside. Turn up the heat and brown the leg of lamb, about 5 minutes per side. Remove and let rest on a chopping block.
2. In the same pot with the bacon fat, add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, apricot preserves and vinegar, and cook, stirring frequently, until the aroma of the spices is strong. Return the lamb to the pan with the bacon.
3. Add chickpeas and stock, bring just to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently until the lamb is very tender, about 1.5 hours to 2.
4. Add the raisins and continue to cook, uncovered, until they are nicely plumped, about 10 minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in the parsley and lemon. Serve with couscous.