(C) The Part Time Chef
Now that it's playoff time - not to mention - COLD outside, I am once again looking for easy, slow-cooking, comforting dishes for Sunday dinners. Since I cook every night, I am always pleased to find complex, interesting meals that take very little hands-on time. Having Royer lamb in the freezer and some basic ingredients on hand left me with only a few to buy after finding this have-to-try Persian dish on Jamie Oliver's website: Spiced Lamb Stew with Walnuts and Pomegranates.
Now, pomegranates were something that I have only come to understand as of late. While very popular elsewhere int he world (like the Middle East) they have only started to be available in mainstream markets with some consistency in the past few years. They are easy to deal with, too. Simply wash the outside of the fruit, cut it in half on the bias, then break apart each half, working the seeds out of the flesh into a bowl. It does take a little time, but the biggest issue is the dark red juice you might squirt on yourself in the process.
This time, I made the recipe exactly according to the recipe with one exception. Despite the prevalence of boxes of beautiful pomegranates at Costco over the holidays, they were nowhere to be seen last week. So, I bought one pomegranate for garnish and used bottled 100% pomegranate juice for the stew. (note: be sure to use 100% pomegranate juice if you choose to do this - not the "100% juice" you find in most supermarkets, which is primarily white grape or apple juice. You can find 100% pomegranate juice at Trader Joe's and Costco. )
This recipe got a rave review: 10/10 according to my husband, and I concur. It's very earthy, complex, and yet bright and fresh from the fruit.
Here is the original recipe:
Recipe excerpted from Jamie Oliver's website. All rights reserved. www.jamieoliver.com
This is a really nice twist on a good old British winter lamb stew.
- 750g roasting shoulder joint of lamb, boneless (about 2 lbs, give or take a bit)
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- 1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 4 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 1/2 a stick of cinnamon
- 100g walnuts, chopped (about 4 ounces)
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 pomegranates (or 16 oz 100% pomegranate juice)
- a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Cut the lamb into thumb-sized cubes. Spike the flour with a teaspoon of sea salt and black pepper. Toss the lamb cubes in the seasoned flour.
Heat a large pan and pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add as many lamb pieces as will fit in one layer, cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes until soft and browned evenly. Remove from the pan, then repeat with the remaining cubes until they are all browned. Return all the lamb to the pan and turn the heat down.
Add the onion, celery, garlic, cinnamon, walnuts and bay leaves to the pan. Put the lid back on and cook very gently for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan, until the onion is softened.
Cut you pomegranates in half and ease out a few of the seeds and put to one side. Juice them as you would an orange or lemon. You should end up with about 500ml of juice. (If you can't find pomegranates, shop-bought cranberry juice works well instead.) Stir the juice into the lamb and top up with water to cover. Simmer very gently for 1½ hours, or until the lamb is tender, adding a little water now and then if the stew gets dry.
Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Season to taste and sprinkle with the parsley and reserved pomegranate seeds. Lovely served with steaming hot saffron rice.