Adventures in Cooking Pt 1

Welcome back. This weekend was a big one for me. Full of delicious smells in the kitchen, both mine and others. To start, I made a lovely slow cooked meal (although not in my awesome Dutch Oven as originally hoped). Thanks to epicurious, I found a “Slow-Cooked Moroccan Lamb” and paired it with a “Cool Cucumber Raita”.

Based on reviews, the lamb was spicy. And indeed it was. I’m glad I had that raita to temper the heat, as well as bring the dish together. I stuck mostly to the recipes, although I used non-fat Greek Yogurt, which cut some of the fat and didn’t require straining prior to combining with other ingredients. I would recommend letting the raita sit in the fridge prior to serving to allow it to soak up the flavors. Additionally, I used a Butterflied Leg of Lamb cut instead of the shoulder on the recommendation of my butcher.

Ben and I paired it with a lovely Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in OR. This dish is definitely entering the regular rotation.

Moroccan Slow-Cooked Lamb
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds trimmed boned lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 15 1/2-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 cup dried apricots (about 5 ounces)
2 large plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons (packed) grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add lamb and toss to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add lamb to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally and adding 2 more tablespoons oil to skillet between batches, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to another large bowl after each batch.
Add onion and tomato paste to drippings in skillet. Reduce heat to medium; sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add broth, garbanzo beans, apricots, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and lemon peel and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Return lamb to skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until lamb is just tender, about 1 hour. Uncover and simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.)
Transfer lamb and sauce to bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Cool Cucumber Raita
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 7-inch-long piece English hothouse cucumber, peeled, coarsely grated
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons (packed) finely chopped fresh cilantro
4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint

Line strainer with cheesecloth and place over bowl. Add yogurt; cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
Combine drained yogurt and grated cucumber in small bowl. Add coarse salt, chopped cilantro, and chopped mint; mix well. Cover cucumber raita and chill at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

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