Friday, September 16, 2011
Spoon-Tender Lamb in Pomegranate sauce, with Garlic, Dates,Golden Raisins, Carrots, and Dried Apricots
I have wanted to cook slow-braised or "Seven Hour Lamb" since I read Melissa Clark's recipe in the New York Times. But leg of lamb is expensive, and I have had trouble finding the three pound cuts I used to see. Publix had only five to six pounders this week, all for over $40. I stopped at the Belle Meade Kroger, hoping for something smaller. More big legs, but wonder of wonders, all wore the "Manager's Special" label and were marked down to $26. I bought two, since lamb is my beef. As a friend of mine would say- I will be "eating on it" for a year.
I cooked one leg right away, but only after hacking and prying and sawing it in two, for I had no Dutch oven large enough to braise six pounds of meat. One half I slow braised, the other half I cut into chunks and soaked in red wine for twenty-four hours before using it in stew. My second six pound leg is packed into my increasingly full and dangerous freezer. A pork loin hurtled out at me last week during a frozen food avalanche and almost broke my foot. Every time I open the freezer door I have to retreat.
The recipes I had looked at all called for wine. But I decided to use a 15 oz can of chicken broth mixed with two tablespoons of pomegranate molasses. Pomegranate juice would have been too sweet. And instead of using potatoes, I kept the carrot and added a handful of dried apricots cut in half, half a dozen chopped dried dates, and half a cup of golden raisins. I also added a medium yellow onion, sauteed to golden and sweet.
I dried the lamb leg half, then seared it on all sides in olive oil in a big skillet. I seasoned it with sea salt and a dusting of cumin. Then I put it in a dutch oven. I surrounded it with the vegetables and fruit, added a tad more salt, then poured in the broth. I added a tablespoon of honey and five peeled whole cloves of garlic. I put the cover on the dutch oven and put it in the oven at 300 degrees. I knew 7 hours would be too long . Clark's recipe had warned me. My lamb was done at two and a half hours.
And yes, I checked it frequently. And yes, it was tender enough to cut through with a spoon. I paired it with couscous . And I used some of the braising liquid from the dutch oven to cook the couscous in- .
A delicious dish, though perhaps too exotic for the young or the provincial.It should feed four.
Here are the ingredients:
2-2 1/2 lb lamb leg
15 oz chicken broth
1 medium yellow onion, dice and sauteed in olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled and diced.
6 dates, chopped.
8-12 dried apricots, cut in half.
2 tbs Pomegranate molasses.
1 tablespoon of honey.
1 teaspoon cumin- half sprinkled on lamb, half added to braising liquid.
1/2 cup golden raisins (Sultanas)
Olive oil for searing lamb and cooking the onion.
Sea salt to taste. Add a dash to onions when you are sauteeing them. Add to taste in braising liquid.
One last word- should you have a dutch oven large enough to fit a six pound leg- double the ingredients. But I would urge that you not abandon it for seven hours in the oven. Four hours should be enough.