When I saw fresh quarters of lamb of in the supermarket, I decided that it was worth the price. The butcher sliced off the chops and cut the shoulder and breast into thin pieces about 3 inches across. Not the way I would have liked it cut, but try to argue with a determined butcher who’s already pushing the meat through his electric slicer.
I froze the chops for grilling later and looked at the rest of the cut-up meat. Lots of little pieces with bone in them. Cooked slowly in wine, they would make a fine, light stew. Could be worse.
My usual way with lamb is to surround it with aromatic herbs like rosemary and thyme, garlic and dried fruit. But I have this bag of peeled chestnuts, bought with some abandoned recipe in mind. I wondered, how would lamb go with chestnuts?
Sighing, I picked up a nearby cookbook by Claudia Roden and looked lamb up in the index. Lo and behold – lamb with chestnuts. I cheered up. The dish looked interesting and easy. And so it is, if you have pre-peeled chestnuts.
Mrs. Roden’s recipe calls for cooking the meat in water, but I substituted dry red wine for it. I also couldn’t resist adding something fruity, so I found my jar of dried citrus peels and dropped a strip of orange peel into the stew. It was all cooked up in my tajine, and I discovered all over again how delicious lamb cooked with cinnamon tastes.
Lamb with chestnuts
PrintPrep15 minutes Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes Yield6
- 2 lbs cubed lamb meat (3 lb. if there are lots of bones)
- 1 large red onion
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½-1 tsp ground allspice (I used 4 whole allspice berries)
- 1 long strip of dried orange peel (or peel a fresh orange, trimming away all the pith and rind, then quarter it)
- 1 ½ lb chestnuts
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- 3-4 cups dry red wine
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- If the meat has a lot of fat on it, trim off most of it. Leave some on for flavor and texture, though.
- Chop the onion and in a large pot (or tajine) sauté it in the oil.
- When the onion is soft, add the meat and cook it until it’s browned, turning it over occasionally.
- Add the dry spices; stir.
- Add the orange peel or prepared fresh orange.
- Pour in the wine and bring the whole dish to a simmer.
- Cook the meat on a low flame for 2 hours or until fork-tender.
- About 15 minutes before you’ll want to turn off the flame, add the chestnuts and lemon juice. Stir.
- Scatter plenty of chopped parsley over the dish before serving, not only to add a fresh, herbal taste, but also to make the dish more attractive.
- Rice or couscous are classic additions to this stew, as indeed to any.