Prunes? In a STEW??

So last month I randomly picked up this recipe magazine I’d never seen before.

And now?

I.Am.OBSESSED.

Fine Cooking is…AWESOME. So far I’ve made the beef stew and the pierogies and two nights ago I made a Lamb and Prune Stew – but shoved it in the fridge to …well, stew, until dinner tonight.

Wowsa it was good.

Served it with rice cooked in Beef Broth, homemade pickled cucumbers, and a medley of veg sautéed in garlic confit and sprinkled with a little Turmeric and Cumin. Our friend Athi was over for dinner tonight. He made a WONDERFUL suggestion – Sriracha. Just a touch of its fiery heat added a whole new dimension to this stew and the veg – in fact, I was gonna serve everything separately, but he suggested the dump and stir method – topped with a little of the aforementioned heat.

might have clapped. I _definitely_ had seconds.

All pretty in the pot

All pretty in the pot

Lamb and Prune Stew by Molly Stevens from FineCooking.com

Printable Recipe HERE

Dairy-FREE, Gluten-FREE

Ingredients:

3 lb. boneless lamb shoulder or leg, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-1/2- to 2-inch pieces **I misread this. I bought a Lamb BREAST – which ends up being MUCH smaller. As Athi said, when you do get a piece of meat, it’s like a little special treat. *sigh*

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)

1 to 2 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, minced

1 teaspoon Ground Cumin

1 teaspoon Ground Turmeric

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1 cup Hard Cider **We ended up drinking the rest of a big bottle with dinner last night. I suggest buying 1 big bottle and oh no! What shall I do with the rest of this bottle? *wink*

2-1/2 cups Homemade or Lower-salt Store-bought Beef Broth

2-1/2 cups peeled Pearl onions **I used a whole bag of the frozen ones, but I left it on the counter for an hour to defrost.

2-1/2 cups 1-inch Carrot pieces

1 cup Prunes, cut into bite-size pieces **I used one of those smaller tins that I had in the back of the pantry. It’s funny, I’d forgotten just how much I like those things. Prunes are pretty great!

1/4 cup Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley, chopped

2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice

How To:

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

2- 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.

3- In a 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Season about one-third of the 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.

4- Pour all but 2 Tablespoons 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 yellow onion, celery, and coarsely chopped 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 ginger, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

5- Add the cider, 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.

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

7- Crumple a 12×16-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. **I don’t quite understand the purpose of this step, but I totally did it.

8- After 1 hour of stewing, add the pearl onions, carrot pieces, and prunes to the pot. Cover with the parchment and lid, and cook until the lamb is fork-tender, 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 hours more (shoulder cuts will take longer than leg cuts).

9- Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. 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.

Making Ahead Tip

10- 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.

 

In da bowl - BEFORE we did the dump & stir

In da bowl – BEFORE we did the dump & stir

End results: I was a little…hesitant about the stew. The idea of prunes and cinnamon together with lamb was…sorta interesting sounding, but still, one never really knows until one tries things. Turns out the grownups all ate more than one serving! The twins…well, they refused to eat the stew. J ate all his rice and R decided she only wanted pickles for dinner.

Some days are just like that….

A little happiness onna plate

A little happiness onna plate

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3 thoughts on “Prunes? In a STEW??

  1. Hi Sara,

    I wanted to drop in and say thanks for liking my blog. Your recipes are very interesting and well written. I especially like the one above … I recently bought a big jar of prunes (to mix into oatmeal w/ almonds), and I was having trouble finding other uses for them… think I’ll give this recipe a try!

    I like your approach to improvised cooking … I’m the same way in my kitchen. I collect old Saveur magazines, so I’ll sometimes flip through looking for interesting recipes, then change up the ingredients a bit.

    By the way, how did you make the homemade pickles?

    • You know what’s funny?
      I misread PICKLES for PANCAKES and started typing up THAT recipe.

      I amuse myself.

      I do a quick sweet and sour pickle that my grandmother used to make. You peel 3 cucumbers, top and tail them then slice them really thinly – I used to do it by hand until I discovered the JOY that is a mandolin. I recommend a mandolin.
      You dump your newly sliced cucumbers into a leak-proof container (I tend to use leftover quart sized deli containers). You’ll add in 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup white vinegar. Put the lid on and shake vigorously. Taste. Is it balanced? Add more vinegar or more sugar until the mix tastes even to you. I like them better after day 2 (they’re good for 2 weeks in the fridge), but have been known to bring them fresh fresh to a picnic. They were devoured.

      Enjoy!

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