Lamb Stew with Orzo, Olives and Butter Beans

The general structure for this dish comes from one in Modern Mediterranean Cooking by Elen Balashova. Her recipe suggested this dish could be completed on the cook top in around an hour by just simmering the lamb shanks. Having cooked lamb shanks before I just didn’t see that happening. So I turned to the pressure cooker to speed up the process. I also added red bell pepper for some color, Serrano pepper for a bit of heat and preserved lemon for a deeper flavor. A finish with fresh lemon juice helps awaken the broth.

Lamb Stew with Orzo, Olives and Butter Beans
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 2 lamb shanks (about 4 lbs. total)
  • 1 onion, 1/4″ dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, 1/4″ dice
  • 2 serrano peppers, diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced fine or pressed
  • 8 cups water, divided
  • 4 springs fresh oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 oz. orzo pasta
  • 1 14.5 oz. can butter beans (undrained)
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, pith removed, rinsed and finely diced
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Sprinkle lamb shanks with salt and pepper then brown in the oil, 3-4 each side. Set aside the shanks and drain the fat. Return 1 tablespoon of fat to the pot.
  2. Add the onions and peppers. Scrape to release and fond created by browning the shanks. Cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste and oregano, stir into the other vegetables and cook until aromatic (about 1 minutes). Add the water and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the shanks to the pot along with 4 cups of water. Slap on the cover, lock it in place and heat to a steady release of steam is achieved. Cook for 35-40 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to have a low and steady steam release.
  4. Turn off the heat, remove the pressure cooker from the burner and perform a quick release on the steam. Remove the cover and check the meat. It should be falling off the bones. If not give a little pull with tongs; if it comes off easily then your good to go. If not recover, return to pressure and cook another 5-10 minutes.
  5. When you meat is done remove to it a dish, add the remaining water plus a tablespoon of salt and bring it to a boil. When the broth is boiling add the orzo and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the butter bean and liquid, chopped olives and preserved lemon, stir to incorporate. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. While the dish finishes cooking pull the meat from the lamb bones and shredded into bite size pieces. You can return these to the pot at any point.
  8. Add the lemon juice, stir to incorporate and taste for salt/pepper. Adjust as needed and serve.

Notes:
If you don’t finish this in the first serving the orzo will likely take over. Don’t worry about it. You can add a bit of water when reheating to thin out the leftovers.

Don’t have preserved lemon, don’t worry about it. You could zest your lemon and add that at the end along with the juice to add a bit more lemony flavor. Or leave it out.

Ground Lamb with Swiss Chard

I am blessed to have access to a Winter Farmer’s Market between January and March. I am further blessed that I can get not only hearty root veggies but fresh, locally grown, greens like kale and salad mix. This recipe is inspired by the ground lamb and Swiss chard I picked up last weekend.

Ground Lamb with Swiss Chard
Servings: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. Penzey’s Mural of Flavor spice blend
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 8 oz. Swiss chard, stemmed and cut into 1″x2″ pieces
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • plain white rice
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Add oil to a non-stick skillet and heat on high until the oil shimmers. Add the ground lamb, breaking up in to smaller chunks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, breaking the chunks down into smaller pieces as the meat warms up and becomes more manageable.
  2. When the meat is mostly cooked through drain excess oil so that you have about a tablespoon left in the pan. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and stir to incorporate. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Onions should soften but not brown.
  3. Add the garlic, stir and cook until fragrant; about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomato paste and spices. Stir until combined with the meat and cook for about 1 minute.
  5. Add the Swiss chard, sprinkle with salt and cover the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, stir to combine with the meat and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste the chard for doneness. Continue cooking if needed; if ready add the lemon zest/juice and toss together to coat. Adjust the seasoning as desired.
  6. Serve over plain white rice.

Notes:
You don’t really need the oil as ground lamb tends to be a bit fatty however you need something in the non-stick skillet while you preheat it.

Be sure to rinse your Swiss chard well and spin it dry. Since we want to wilt the chard it doesn’t need to be bone dry; a little dampness on the leaves will help them cook faster.

If the skillet seems a little dry when checking the chard half way through cooking add a tablespoon or two of water before slapping the skillet back on the pan. The steam will help the chard cook.

Cumin Ground Lamb with Braised Napa Cabbage

When faced with a cabbage my first instinct is to braise it. When faced with a 15″ long and 8″ diameter Napa cabbage my impulse was to braise it for Saturday night dinner. My partner in cookery suggested some lamb to go with it and his Interweb search turned up a candidate recipe. A bit of tweaking to fit other items that were part of the meal and this was the result.

[Cumin Ground Lamb and Braised Napa Cabbage]

Cumin Ground Lamb and Braised Napa Cabbage

The idea for this recipe came from this recipe at the Hot, Spicy and Skinny blog. I’ve rewritten it to include the ingredients I used and reworked the instructions. Enjoy.

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Saturday night – 10/06/2007

It’s been a while since I made anything with lamb for dinner. I had come up with a lamb patty recipe back in January and I wanted to see if it would translate to an entree. I think it was fairly successful.

Menu
Lamb patties
Bulgar & Green Lentil Pilaf
Steamed wax beans
Raita (a sauce made from greek yogurt, sour cream, seeded cucumber & mint)
Sourdough pumpernickel bread

Hot Cross buns for dessert (courtesy of my husband Ted)

Notes under the cut

Grilled lamb patties

The weather was in the mid 60s for this year’s holiday party. I was originally going to make these lamb meatballs from Nigella Lawson. Instead I made grilled lamb patties. The recipe is roughly based on one in Joy of Cooking (1997) for Ethan’s Lamb Patties.

One of the criteria for this recipe was that it had to avoid onions, peppers & garlic due to the allergies of assorted guests. Even ground pepper can be a problem.

Grilled Lamb Patties

Ingredients:
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground rosemary
juice of 1 lemon
4 tsp sherry
4 tsp soy sauce
2 pounds ground lamb
1.5 cups panko bread crumbs

With a mortar and pestle grind the dried thyme, salt and ground rosemary until the thyme is well crushed.

Dump in bowl with the liquid ingredients and mix to combine.

Add the lamb and panko to the liquid mixture. Use you hands to combine all the ingredients.

Form patties using ~1 tbsp of lamb mixture by rolling them into a ball and then flattening. Place on a plastic wrap lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes once all patties are formed.

Heat gas grill for ~15 minutes on high then drop the temp to medium. Oil the grill and then fill the grill with patties. Cook on the first side for about 2 minutes and then flip. Cook for approx. 1 more minute and remove.

Yield was 35 small appetizer sized patties or probably 8 or 9 full sized ones.