Braised lamb with cinnamon, olives and nut pilaf
I have adapted this recipe from one in Greg Malouf's book Arabesque for roasted rack of lamb. I like to use similar flavours, but with slow-cooked shoulder chops. I haven't added any salt to the recipe as many liquid stocks have added salt. If you are using a good-quality fresh stock you will need to season the lamb and rice to taste with salt during cooking. Serve with steamed vegetables such as broccoli. For the nut pilaf, I have used brown basmati rice, which is available in health food shops and delis. You need to soak it for a few hours before cooking. If you use white basmati, reduce the cooking time to 15 minutes.
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- For the lamb
- 12 lamb shoulder chops
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- finely grated zest of 2 lemons
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons allspice berries, crushed
- 1?2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, cut into wedges
- 1?2 cup whole black olives
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 400ml can whole peeled tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- For the Nut Pilaf
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1?2 cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
- 1?2 cup pine nuts
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1?2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 11?2 cups brown basmati rice, soaked for 2 hours
- 750ml chicken stock, heated to boiling
- 1?2 cup chopped mint leaves
- 750ml chicken stock
For the lamb
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the lamb chops in a dish with the garlic, lemon zest and juice, allspice, pepper, thyme and olive oil, and mix well.
Heat a large heavy-based ovenproof pan over a medium to high heat (preferably a wide shallow pan; if you only have a deep casserole, you will need to brown the meat in batches). Add the lamb with its marinade and brown for 3 minutes each side. Add the onions and stir in to brown a little then add the olives, cinnamon, tomatoes, tomato paste and stock. Bring to the boil then cover and place in the oven for 11?2 hours until the lamb is very tender.
Serve with nut pilaf (recipe follows).
For the Nut Pilaf
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy-based pan over medium heat. Add the almonds and pine nuts and cook for 5 minutes to brown. Set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan and add the onion and cinnamon, fry for 5 minutes then stir in the rice and cook a further 3 minutes, stirring. Add the hot stock, bring to the boil, reduce to the lowest simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes without disturbing. Remove from the heat and leave to rest, covered, for 5 minutes.
Reserve a few nuts and some mint for garnish. Stir the remaining nuts and mint through the rice.
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