RECIPE BY: Matthew Paille
YIELD: 8 servings
PAIRS WELL WITH: Topophilia Carneros Pinot Noir
3 pounds bone-in lamb stew meat or lamb neck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
1 ¾ cups lamb or chicken stock
5 ounces (1 cup) dried apricots
1 cup dried figs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 small cinnamon sticks
Large pinch saffron
Ras el Hanout Spice Blend
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1.5 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
⅓ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup slivered almonds
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
1 rack of lamb
Pomegranate seeds molasses and mint
2 lbs heirloom carrots red, orange, and yellow quartered lengthwise
Mixed variety and color baby sweet peppers halved
Mixed varieties, and colors summer squash quartered lengthwise
Gather seasonal roasted vegetables, here we used summer squash, sweet baby peppers, and heirloom carrots.
Toss the vegetables in 1 oz of olive oil a pinch of the ras el hanout spice and roast in oven on individual sheet pans
Squash for ten minutes peppers for 15 and carrots for 20 minutes or until tender
In a large bowl, combine lamb and 2 teaspoons salt. Let sit at room temperature at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
In a small pot, bring stock to a boil. Remove from heat, add apricots, dried figs and let sit at least 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a tagine, Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, warm 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat until hot. Working in batches, add lamb to pot, leaving room around each piece (this will help them brown). Cook until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer pieces to a plate as they brown.
Drain fat, if necessary, leaving just enough to coat the bottom of the pot. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomato paste, ginger, 1 cinnamon stick and the spices, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add lamb and any juices on the plate, the apricots and stock, and half the cilantro. Cover pot with foil and then its lid, and cook in oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until lamb is tender, turning it occasionally. (If using a tagine, you don't need to use foil.) Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat butter and 1 cinnamon stick over medium heat. Add almonds and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.
Cut rack of lamb into individual chops, drizzle with pomegranate molasses and salt and pepper
Sear in same almond pan each lamb chop, one side only, and jut flip and remove the second side as not to overcook the delicate chop
To serve, transfer lamb and juices to a serving platter. add roasted vegetables to garnish and lamb chops Top with toasted almonds and any butter left in the small skillet, scallions, parsley and remaining cilantro. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste.