March has not come in like a lion this year. It has come in like an entire pride - likely the pride Simba left behind in Scar's care where food has become scarce and those lions are hungry. The official start of spring is only 3 days away and there is no sign of the angry, wintry weather ever letting up.
Since March isn't going out like a lamb, I might as make like a lion and just eat that lamb myself. St. Patrick's Day might be over, but I'm going to combat this endless cold, rain, sleet, and snow with some lamb stew.
Let me point out before we begin, that there is nothing Irish about my lamb stew at all. My stew had a Middle Eastern flair to it.
I started with lamb neck bones. I sprinkled them with salt and pepper and browned them well. I wanted to find some shoulder chunks instead, but the store didn't have any. The neck bones looked good for stewing.
I cooked some onions and then added garlic and finally some chunks of carrots. I seasoned everything with cumin, ground coriander, and cinnamon.
I added the lamb back to the pot with some beef stock mixed with tomato paste, a cup of frozen chopped spinach (fresh would have been fine, but I had frozen on hand), a can of chickpeas, and a cup of golden raisins. Then the whole pot went into the oven for about 90 minutes.
You would not believe how good the house smelled while this was cooking!
I served it over rice, although I suppose couscous would have been more appropriate. It was a truly delcious stew either way. I wasn't really crazy about the lamb neck bones though. They have too much connective tissue on them. I had the same issues with them that I had with beef shanks - they're a little chewy. They probably needed much more cooking. I hope I can find shoulder the next time.
Lamb Stew with Spinach, Chick Peas, and Raisins
- 4 pounds lamb neck bones
- Salt and pepper for sprinkling
- 2 Tbl olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 medium carrots, cut into chunks
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 quart beef stock
- 3 Tbl tomato paste
- 1 15 oz. can chick peas
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup frozen chopped spinach
Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large pan and add the meat. Brown well on all sides over medium heat. Remove.
Add the onion to the pan and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the carrots and cook until they begin to brown a bit. Add cinnamon, cumin, garlic, and salt. Make sure they coat the vegetables well and cook until fragrant.
Mix together beef stock and tomato paste. Add to the pan along with the lamb bones, the spinach and the chick peas. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 90 minutes or until lamb is tender.
Serve over rice or couscous