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Lamb Stew with Spiced Chickpeas

The meat is fork tender, falling apart in the bowl once it’s served.

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A hint of coolness in the air forces us to grab a coat or sweater, sip on a cup of something warm, and inspires us all with thoughts of comfort food. If there’s one dish on repeat in many kitchens, it’s a rich and hearty stew. That’s why I particularly enjoy this Lamb Stew with Spiced Chickpeas. A delightful combination of herbs and spices, distinctly Moroccan in flavor, with slow-braised meat makes for one amazingly comforting fall meal.

I’m using lamb meat here. It’s a protein often used in Moroccan cooking. If lamb isn’t available or something you like, beef is an excellent alternative. When making a lamb or beef stew, it’s important to sear the meat first. This is an essential first layer of flavor on the meat itself, but the brown bits left on the bottom of the pot become a building block to the overall flavor profile.

Onion, garlic, and fresh ginger are next on deck, and I particularly love the ginger here. Each of these adds its own unique “hue” – if you will – to the tapestry of flavor found here. Now for herbs and spices. I mix up a ras-el-hanout; it’s a Moroccan spice blend made up of cumin, coriander, fennel, turmeric, cayenne, salt and pepper (of course), and one of my favorite spices, cardamom. Warmth is the best way to describe what this combination of flavors brings to the Lamb Stew with Spiced Chickpeas.

And we’re still not done building flavor. Chickpeas, apricots, and tomatoes join the lamb that has been returned to the pot, yet another combo of savory and sweet that will turn the stew into a triumph of flavor. The temp goes down low to let the meat, spices, and their friends do their thing, as they say. A little over an hour later the house smells practically edible! The meat is fork tender, falling apart in the bowl once it’s served. Dare I say this tastes even better the next day as leftovers? Lamb Stew with Spiced Chickpeas will make a very real impression, on the tastebuds most especially.

Lamb Stew with Spiced Chickpeas is from the Flavors of Morocco menu at Table for 12. It is served with Lentil and Kale Salad, Crispy Phyllo Prawn Cigars, Steamed Couscous with Brown Butter & Herbs, and an Orange Cardamom Cake.

Serves 6

15m prep time

1h 15m cook time

4.8
Rated 4.8 out of 5
Rated by 4 reviewers
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For spice blend (Ras-el-hanout):
  • 1 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the stew:
  • 2 lbs. lamb shoulder, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups whole peeled tomatoes, hand crushed
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, halved
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
Preparation
  1. Preheat a heavy-bottomed dutch oven over high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  2. Season lamb cubes with salt and pepper. Sear lamb in oil until 2 sides are golden. Work in batches and remove cooked lamb to a bowl.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add onion, garlic, and ginger to the pan. Cook until the onions soften and the garlic starts to brown.
  4. In a bowl, mix all of the ras-el-hanout spices together.
  5. Add spice blend, cooked lamb, and all of the remaining ingredients, except lemon zest to the pot. Bring stew up to a simmer, then reduce to low.
  6. Let cook for 50 - 60 minutes covered or until lamb is tender. When the lamb is tender, remove the cover and let cook for the last 15 minutes to thicken to the broth. Taste for seasoning.
  7. Garnish with lemon zest and enjoy!

This recipe is from the Flavors of Morocco menu at Table for 12.