This simple North African lamb stew, spotted years ago in Frances Bissell’s The Pleasures of Cookery (great title), is a handy winter dish for company—but I haven’t made it for a while.
Six French friends are coming to lunch tomorrow so I’m preparing it today. That way the taste should deepen while the panic levels lighten in the morning.
I once cooked this and was puzzled by the reduced volume–much less than usual. Then I spotted the bowl of beans hiding in full view on the counter–I’d forgotten to put them in!
1 boned lamb shoulder (about 2k/4lb meat)–cut up into bite size (1″ish) pieces
3 tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves–peeled & chopped
1 1/2 tsp each whole cumin seeds
1 1/2 whole coriander seeds
24 dried apricots*–halved (the yellow ones show up prettier than the untreated variety I normally like)
1 1/2 pints stock–I use organic vegetable cubes
2 large tins (cans) of flageolet beans (little green ones)–drained
salt and pepper
A bunch of fresh coriander (or parsley)–chopped
Heat the oven at 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
Seal the meat in the hot olive oil, using a large frying pan–(you will probably have to do this in batches).
When nicely browned, remove it to the ovenproof casserole from which you will serve it.
Gently fry the onions and garlic in the fat and oil left in the pan, without browning them.
Add the apricots.
Season this mixture well, with salt and pepper and pour it into the casserole.
Add a handful of coarsely chopped parsley or coriander.
In a separate pan heat the drained beans with the remaining stock.
When hot, add the beans with the stock to the casserole and turn everything over carefully.
Bring it all to a simmer on the top of the stove, then cover and place the casserole on a low shelf in the oven.
Cook for about 2 hours, checking after an hour to see if it needs topping up with stock—being careful not to lose the intensity of the sauce.
Serve over bulgar wheat–or if you prefer, cous cous or basmati brown rice.
Remembered the beans this time!
* Dried apricots are especially suitable for anyone, like me, watching blood sugar levels. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/apricots-blood-sugar-9889.html