If you were to ask what my favorite meat is, I'd have to say it's neck and neck between pork and lamb. Naturally, that's only my opinion because Big Guy's favorite is definitely beef being the Eastern Oregon cowboy that he is.
A miracle though - he darned near changed his tune last night with this lovely braised lamb in all its Mediterranean flavored glory. Chunks of lamb shoulder browned well then braised slowly in tomatoes and red wine seasoned with cumin, bay leaves and cinnamon and pungent with the aroma of grated orange - I swear we could have made a mint selling sniff tickets at the front door.
I pretty well followed the directions from the Ladies at Best of Bridge in their book The Best of the Best and More but added dried cherries instead of currents, doubled the garlic, added more orange zest and of course I dredged the meat in flour before browning - hey I always do that.
The result is a truly mouth watering slap your knee and say where ya been all my life kind of superlatively delicious dish, particularly garnished with salty feta cheese and a briney Kalamata olives. I can hardly wait to have leftovers today because we all know stew, like a good wine, just gets better with age. It's a relief to know some things do. Ya' think?
Braised Lamb with Mediterranean Flavors from JBug’s Kitchen Antics adapted from Best of Bridge, Best of the Best and More
3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder cut into bite sized pieces
Coarse ground black pepper, Salt and all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons olive oil, and more as needed
3 large onions diced (half inch)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes with juices
1 – 5-1/2 ounce can tomato paste
1-1/2 cups dry red wine
Water as needed
1/2 cup dried currants (or dried cherries)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
Grated zest from 1 orange
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Feta cheese and kalamata olives as garnish
Preheat oven to 325. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Season lamb liberally with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Add olive oil to pot and when shimmering, brown lamb in batches on all sides, removing from pot as it is done. Add onions and garlic to pot and cook, stirring often until onions start to soften. Add cumin, brown sugar, bay leaves and cinnamon stick to pot and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, dried fruit, and parsley – stir to incorporate then return browned lamb to the pot. Add half the salt and pepper, bring to a boil, then cover pot and braise in oven for 2 hours, or until meat is very tender. Check the liquid level after 1 hour, adding water as needed. When lamb is tender, remove pot from oven and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Serve over rice or polenta and garnish with crumbled feta and olives. Makes 8 servings.
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