Recipe: Early summer lamb makes a fine and spicy feast for May

Di Curtin uses lamb for this mild spicy Moroccan style stew
Recipe: Early summer lamb makes a fine and spicy feast for May
Fragrant Lamb Summer Stew by Di Curtin

THE end of May is fast approaching, but apart from a few odd days of sun, we’ve had nothing remotely resembling consistent early summer weather. Whilst the days can be warm enough to sit out, the nights get chilly. I for one, am still lighting the stove some evenings.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Finally, after weeks of lockdown, it’s great to be able to get out with a few friends for a socially distanced walk on the long evenings! We’ve got a lot to feel good about! To add to the positivity this weekend, I’ve brought warmth and sustenance to dinnertime, to cover the nip in the nights, coupled with some exotic sunshine flavours to make us feel like summer has arrived – at least on the plate!

I’m using early summer lamb for this mildly spicy Moroccan style stew. It’s not quite an authentic Moroccan Tagine, as I didn’t cook it in a tagine. But it does have the components of this famous traditional dish.

This time of year, lamb that was born in the New Year has had time to mature a little, dining out on fresh summer grass. This adds sweet succulence to the meat. Marry it with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and smoked paprika for an exotic, heavenly fragrance and taste. Alongside the carrots, onions and chickpeas in this stew, there’s a secret ingredient.

My garden always has a prolific patch of wild garlic, so its great to be able to run up to the top of the lawn and pick it. I add it to almost anything savoury this time of year. The flowers are also pretty, so I’ve used some to decorate this dish.

FRAGRANT SUMMER LAMB STEW 

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

600g diced lamb 

3 carrots, peeled and chopped 

1 onion, peeled and chopped 

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 

1 tsp smoked paprika 

½ tsp cumin 

1 tsp ground coriander 

½ tsp ground cinnamon 

Good grating fresh nutmeg 

1 tsp dried oregano 

400g chopped tomatoes 

350mls chicken stock 

400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

100g fresh or frozen peas 

2 tbsp fresh finely chopped parsley 

Few wild garlic leaves and flowers, chopped (optional) 

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed frying pan and brown the meat all over.
  • When it’s browned, add the carrot, onion and garlic to the pan and cook for a minute or two more, stirring.
  • Stir in the spices to coat and cook for a further minute.
  • Transfer to a heavy bottomed saucepan with a lid. Pour over chopped tomatoes and stock.
  • Add the oregano.
  • Bring to bubbling and season. Cover and simmer gently for about an hour and a half, or until the lamb is tender. Keep an eye on liquid levels.
  • Add peas and chickpeas and simmer a few more minutes, to cook the peas and heat the chickpeas through.
  • Add the chopped parsley and wild garlic, if using.
  • Serve with couscous.

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