Persian Lamb Stew with Rhubarb & Mint
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 tbsp olive oil or other cooking fat (I chose beef tallow)
- 1 large onion, chopped into small dice
- 1 stalk celery, chopped into small dice
- 1 lb or 500g leg of lamb*, deboned, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp brown sugar (or honey)
- juice and zest of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
- 1-1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper (I’ll admit it– I left this out, since I don’t care for white pepper)
- 25 g fresh mint, finely chopped
- 3 cups or 150 g (yes, you read that correctly!) flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 3 cups or 750 ml unsalted chicken stock
- 1/3 tsp dried mint
- 1.5 lbs. or 750 g rhubarb, cut into 2 inch pieces on the diagonal
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads ground in a small mortar and dissolved in 2-3 tbsp hot water
*This recipe would also work well with beef or chicken, if lamb is not an option
What to do:
1. In a stew pot over medium to high heat, warm the fat of your choice up and brown the meat. Take your time to do this, it’s makes a difference.
2. Remove the meat, turn the heat down to medium-low and add the onions and celery, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, cooking for about five minutes or until the onions are transparent and turning golden.
3. Add the meat back in, along with the garlic, butter, turmeric, sugar, lemon zest (reserve the juice for later) and salt, pepper, and the fresh herbs. Cook for about five minutes, then add the dried mint and chicken stock.
4. Cover (but leave the lid slightly ajar) and simmer over low heat for an hour, stopping by to stir it up a few times as it cooks.
5. Add the chopped rhubarb and saffron liquid, and let it cook for 20 minutes. Be sure not to stir this up, because the rhubarb becomes very soft, and you want it to remain intact for serving.
6. Taste it. I am recommending not adding the lemon juice until you do, because it can become quite tart. Add the lemon juice if needed, but if it’s already more sour than you like, then you can balance it out with a little more sugar or honey.
7. Serve. I like to garnish it with more fresh herbs.
This dish would be wonderful over rice, or over a pureed root vegetable, like mashed turnips (that’s how we enjoyed it.Thinking of the tartness of that tender rhubarb, blending with the buttery, herb-infused broth totally has my mouth watering right now. This stew is definitely something out of the ordinary, and I hope it will bring a fresh start to your enjoyment of spring.
What’s your favorite spring crop, one that you can’t wait to see show up at your market?
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