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Moroccan Lamb Stew

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Serves 5 to 6

  • by Molly Stevens from Fine Cooking
    Issue 121

Green olives and preserved lemon give this Moroccan-influenced stew a tart-salty counterpoint to the sweet chunks of butternut squash.

  • 3 lb. boneless lamb shoulder or leg, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-1/2- to 2-inch pieces
  • 3 Tbs. grapeseed oil or vegetable oil; more as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium celery stalks, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2-1/2 cups homemade or lower-salt store-bought beef broth
  • 2 cups onion wedges (3/4-inch wedges)
  • 2 cups diced butternut squash (1-inch dice)
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup halved pitted green olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped preserved lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.

Spread the lamb on paper towels to dry for 10 to 20 minutes before browning. (You can use this time to chop the onion, celery, and carrot). If the meat is very wet, pat it dry.

In a 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat 3 Tbs. oil over medium to medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Season about one-third of lamb with salt and pepper and arrange it in a single layer in the pot (there should be at least 1/2 inch of space between the pieces). Brown well on at least 4 sides, adjusting the heat as necessary; each batch should take about 10 minutes to brown. Transfer the lamb to a large bowl or rimmed baking sheet as it browns and repeat with the rest of the lamb, seasoning with salt and pepper before browning. Once all of the lamb is browned, remove the pot from the heat to let it cool for a few minutes.

Pour all but 2 Tbs. of the fat from the pot. (If there is not enough, add oil to equal 2 Tbs.) Return the pot to medium heat, then add the onion, celery, and carrot. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, caraway, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the wine, stirring with the wooden spatula to dissolve any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Raise the heat to medium high and boil to reduce by about half, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the beef broth and 1-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil.

Return the lamb to the pot along with any accumulated juice. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer.

Crumple a 12x16-inch piece of parchment, then flatten it out. (Crumpling makes for easy handling.) Place the parchment directly on the surface of the stew, allowing the ends to come up the sides of the pot. Cover and put in the oven.

After 1 hour of stewing, add the onion wedges to the pot. Cover with the parchment and lid, return to the oven. After another 30 minutes, add the squash. Cover with the parchment and lid, return the pot to the oven, and cook until the lamb is fork-tender, 3/4 to 1-1/4 hours more. (Shoulder cuts will take longer than leg cuts.)

Stir in the chickpeas. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Stir in the olives, preserved lemon, and parsley. Degrease the stew by laying a clean paper towel over the surface of the stew and gently pushing it into all the bumps and dips, then quickly peeling it off. Repeat as necessary with more paper towels. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Make Ahead Tips

The stew can be made up to 2 days ahead: Skip the degreasing step, cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate. Once the stew is chilled, lift the solidified fat off the top with a slotted spoon. Reheat the stew over medium-low heat to serve.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 790; Fat (g): 45; Fat Calories (kcal): 400; Saturated Fat (g): 16; Protein (g): 52; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 17; Carbohydrates (g): 39; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 9; Sodium (mg): 850; Cholesterol (mg): 165; Fiber (g): 9;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I just made this, however, I substituted beef for the lamb. Still delicious! I was not able to find any preserved lemons in any grocery store, so googled how to make them. Simple, however, it takes 3 weeks. I found another way to speed the process up (lightly frying and sticking in oven) by googling. This recipe is scrumptious, and a nice way to try a "different" winter stew. Everyone in the family loved this, even those who swear they hate squash.

I love stews. Especially in the winter. So when the latest issue showed up with a Make your own recipes for stews, I was thrilled. I made this particular one tonight. My second of the bunch. I have set a a goal to make all seven before the first day of spring. Love these. First, never thought of baking stew but after two I can tell you it works. Love the finishes.These with the preserved lemon and olives makes an amazing finish so that every bite takes different.

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