Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lamb Stew with Christmas Spices



Planning for Christmas dinner in Hong Kong, especially in my dorm-like kitchen, is always a bit of a headache seeing as there is a chronic shortage of ovens in this city! On top of this, my little shelf-oven decided to commit suicide (probably because of the dread of being overworked at Christmas), so I really had to be creative in what to cook.

I wasn't worried about the sides as much--the buttered baby potatoes from last year (with slight modifications with more butter and parsley) would suffice. But even though the lazily cooked slab of beef (a,k.a. steak with red wine sauce) from last year was super yum, I needed something that was a bit more adventurous.

Enter this fabulous lamb stew with Christmas spices. The original recipe was posted on BBC's Good Food website. I was a little skeptical when I first read it because it looked way too simple for a Christmas meal, but it was a HUGE and pleasant surprise! There definitely needed to be a few modifications based on equipment and taste: I don't have a dutch oven, for instance, so I had to make do  by cooking for a longer time in a stew pot, and I suppose I could've been less stingy with the meat because it ran out so quickly! Definitely recommend adding more meat and making sure that there's more gravy when serving because IT IS DELICIOUS and will leave people licking their fingers and begging for more. Plus, it'll leave your entire house smelling like Christmas.

Ingredients (Serves 2, but really just 1.5)
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 cm fresh root ginger, shredded (with a peeler, for example)
1 tbsp olive oil
270g organic lean lamb neck fillet, cut into bitesize chunks
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1 cardamom pod
1 pinch of ground saffron
1 small bay leaf
1/4 tsp coriander seed powder
1/2 tbsp ground almonds
300-600ml low-sodium beef stock
6 dried apricots
Salt, to taste
Directions
  1. Fry onions, garlic, and half of the ginger in oil on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the onions start to brown. 
  2. Add lamb and the remaining ginger to the pot and stir-fry till the lamb is browned on all sides.
  3. Add all spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, saffron, bay leaf, and coriander seed powder). Cook for a minute to release their flavours.
  4. Add almonds and 300ml of beef stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Compensate for water-loss by adding in more beef stock or water, as per taste. Take this time to also season with salt according to taste.
  5. Add apricots and simmer for a further 15 minutes or until the lamb is tender. Add more water if the sauce becomes too thick.
  6. Serve piping hot with fresh french bread and a side of buttered baby potatoes