It’s this time of year where you never know whether you’ll get to fire up the barbecue or the oven that day…
In my part of the world, the oven has come out a clear winner these past couple of weeks. It’s been raining and dark and gray and sort of cold and depressing, too. Oh well, I decided that I’d make the best of it and enjoy a couple of braised stews while there’s still time. Soon enough, I’ll be putting away my beloved Dutch oven for good, or at least until the leaves start to fall off the trees again.
But let’s not go there just yet! Let’s give those poor leaves time to grow, first… let it be summer already!
While we’re waiting, though, why not enjoy a delicious bowl of fall apart tender pieces of lamb, green olives and raisins, all brought together by a superbly and slightly exotic spiced sauce? Oh yeah, that’s exactly what this Moroccan Style Braised Lamb Stew is all about!
Oh, before we begin making it, though, let me say this: I happen to be a HUGE fan of lamb and love the exotic flavor that it confers to any and all dishes, but quite particularly stews such as this one. BUT, if you weren’t big on lamb yourself, please don’t let that stop you from making this stew. Simply sub beef or veal for the lamb, I can guarantee it’ll be just as delicious!
And if you wanted to make your life easier, get the pre-cut stewing cubes in the meat counter of your local butcher shop, or ask your butcher to prep some for you!
Then, when you’re ready to make that baby, preheat your oven to 300°F and then combine and mix together aaaall the spices that are listed under “spice mix” in the ingredients list below. I know there are quite a few, but most are fairly common so I’m guessing you probably have them at home already.
And again, if you wanted to make your life easier, you could use 3-4 tablespoons of garam masala instead and forget about mixing your own spice blend. While it won’t be exactly the same, it’ll be fairly close.
Also, you’ll want to whisk a couple of cups of water, some chopped sage, Dijon mustard, the zest and juice of a large lemon together in a glass measuring cup. You could very well use bone broth instead of water if you preferred, or if you happened to have some on hand, but it’s not necessary. The stew has PLENTY of flavor to it has it is…
Remove netting from the roast, if present, trim off the excess fat if desired and then cut it into 2½” to 3″ chunks; sprinkle with the salt and pepper. If you haven’t purchased the pre-cut stewing meat, that is…
Heat some good healthy oil in a heavy skillet set over super high heat. Add the chunks of meat in a single layer, making sure that the pieces do not touch — air needs to be able to circulate freely around the pieces of meat, else your meat is going to boil as opposed to brown and will never have a chance to develop that gorgeous, flavor-loaded crust you’re after.
So cook the meat until it’s nice and golden brown on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes. You will probably have to work in 3 to 4 batches, depending on the size of your skillet.
When the pieces of meat have reached the desired color, remove them to a 7 quart Dutch oven while you work on searing the rest of ’em…
Once all the meat has been seared, lower the heat to medium, add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, then throw in the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
Don’t worry if your pan has taken a rather dark color and looks like the bottom is pretty scorched. That’s major flavor for ya, and all that delicious flavor will lift right up as soon as we add liquid to that pan.
Which we should be just about ready to do now, right? Pour in the water/lemon mixture right into the pan…
See how it starts to clean that pan right on contact?
Now throw in the spice mix (or garam masala) and whisk until well blended, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan real nice and good to detach all those bits of flavor that we talked about earlier…
Add all the to the meat that’s patiently waiting in the Dutch oven. Notice how clean that pan got from the deglazing alone? No scrubbing will be required; In fact, it could almost be simply wiped clean!
Put the lid on and cook the meat in the preheated oven for 2½ hours.
After that time, add the olives and raisins, mix them in very gently, and continue cooking for another 30 minutes, or until the meat is fall-apart tender.
Garnish with a handful of chopped fresh parsley as well as a few extra raisins and serve.
I chose to serve my stew with a side of plain couscous, but I’m positive that it would be equally good with basmati rice, or cauliflower rice.
- 1 (2.3kg | 5lb) boneless leg of lamb
- 2-3 tbsp healthy cooking oil
- 1-1/2 tsp salt (I use Himalayan salt)
- 1-1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 cups (475 ml) water
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- the grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 cup pitted green olives (I used almond stuffed)
- 1 cup (150 g) raisins
- Handful of chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 300°F
- In a small bowl, combine all the spices for the spice mix and whisk until very well blended. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl or better yet, in a glass measuring cup, combine the water, chopped sage, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and zest; whisk vigorously until well combined and set aside.
- Remove netting from the roast, if present, trim off the excess fat if desired and then cut it into 2½" to 3" chunks; sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a heavy skillet set over high heat. Add the chunks of meat in a single layer, making sure that the pieces do not touch, and cook until brown on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes. You will have to work in 3-4 batches; remove the cooked pieces of meat to a 7 quart Dutch oven while you sear the others.
- Once all the meat has been seared, lower the heat to medium, add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, then throw in the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Pour in the water/lemon mixture and spice mix, whisk until well blended, scraping the bottom of the pan real good to detach all the bits of flavor that stuck to i; add all to the meat that's in the Dutch oven.
- Cover and cook in the oven for 2½ hours. After that time, add the olives and raisins, mix them in very gently, and continue cooking for another 30 minutes until the meat is fall-apart tender.
- Garnish with a handful of chopped fresh parsley and a few extra raisins, and serve.