Lamb Stew With Lemon and Figs

Carolyn had been wanting to try this recipe ever since her friend Katie mentioned. We finally got around to trying it last week. It was perfect stew day: wintery, dark and cold.

The recipe calls for some ingredients we don’t usually have: saffron, lamb and figs. The lamb was the easiest to find. Make sure you get lamb shoulder and not chops. The shoulder is meant for stewing and is a lot cheaper. Giant didn’t have any out, but they were able to package me up 3lbs. I was also able to find a package of figs at Giant. They may be a little tough to find, but they are worth the search and are a crucial part of the dish. They add a lot of flavor and texture. Saffron was the trickiest to find and the most expensive. I was able to find a small $3 vial at the local health food store. It definitely adds color and I think some flavor too.


Lamb… Ready to stew

The recipe is rather straight forward. The most time consuming part of cutting up the lamb. It is pretty important to try to get a lot of the extra fat off, otherwise the stew ends up rather greasy.

Lamb Stew With Lemon and Figs

From Bon Appétit Feb 06

  • 1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 2 1/2- to 3-pound boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil
  • 2 onions (about 1 pound), thinly sliced
  • 1 small lemon (preferably Meyer), ends trimmed, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 rounded teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 cup dried figs, stems trimmed, quartered lengthwise (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 1/2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
  1. Set strainer lined with double layer of cheesecloth over medium bowl. Place yogurt in strainer; cover and chill 3 to 5 hours to drain. Transfer yogurt to small bowl. Stir in mint; season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.)
  2. Place 1/2 cup warm water and saffron in small bowl; let stand at least 20 minutes to infuse.
  3. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook lamb until brown on all sides, adding more oil as needed, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to large bowl.
  4. Pour all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot (or add 1 tablespoon oil if dry); heat pot over medium heat. Add onions; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add lemon, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne. Stir 1 minute. Add saffron mixture; stir, scraping up browned bits. Add tomatoes with juice, figs, and lamb with any juices to pot. Stir to coat. Add 2 1/2 cups broth.
    Bring stew to boil.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer until meat is tender, stirring occasionally and adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls as needed if dry, about 1 1/2 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and chill.)
  7. Bring stew to simmer, thinning with more chicken broth if necessary. Divide stew among 6 plates; top each serving with dollop of minted yogurt. Place wedge of Crispy Noodle Cake alongside each and serve.

Makes 6 servings.
Bon Appétit
February 2006

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