This dish is a powerhouse of restorative spices and comforting Middle Eastern flavors. It’s rich in antioxidants and inflammation-reducing ingredients, while being surprisingly hands-off since the braising process does most of the hard work.
Prep: 20 min, Cook: 3 hrs, Yield: 6-8 servings
2 lbs lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 Tbsp ghee
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
½ c. whole Medjool dates, pitted
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp ancho chile powder
1 Tbsp chipotle chile powder
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp black caraway seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ c. chicken stock
1 c. pomegranate juice
½ c. crushed tomatoes
½ c. pomegranate seeds
salt, to taste
pickled onions, to garnish
parsley, to garnish
Salt and pepper lamb on every side of the cubes and let sit for 5 minutes. Pat dry with a paper towel.
Heat a 10-inch saute pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add ghee to pan. Once ghee is liquid and shimmering, use tongs to place lamb cubes in the pan, taking care not to crowd them. It may be necessary to brown in two batches. Make sure all sides of each cube have a golden brown crust. Remove from pan and set aside on plate.
Keep the pan over medium heat and add onion. Cook until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant or up to 1 minute. Add in dates, tomato paste and spices and coat the onions evenly. Cook for 1 minute until spices are extremely fragrant.
Pour in stock to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any fond left behind. Next, pour in pomegranate juice and crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine.
Nestle the lamb into the braising liquid, making sure the liquid comes at least halfway up the side of the cubes. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low until fork-tender, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Remove lamb from braising liquid and place on a platter. Tent with foil to keep warm. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the drippings in a bowl. Bring strained liquid to a boil over med-high heat until it’s reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon, about 20-25 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
Drizzle reduced sauce over lamb, garnish with pomegranate seeds, parsley, onions, and serve.
Notes: For a complete meal, serve over mashed cauliflower or polenta. Add some extra crunch to the dish with pickled onion or pomegranate seeds, if in season.
Allergens: Dairy, Nightshades
Source: Inspired by Mark Bittman’s “Braised Lamb with Red Wine and Prunes”