Lamb and apricots
- July 2008
- 1kg diced shoulder or neck of lamb, trimmed of any excess fat
- 1½ tbsp mild olive oil
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 2 leeks, washed and roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 350ml chicken or vegetable stock, hot
- 500g fresh apricots, halved and stoned or a 410g can apricot halves in fruit juice, drained
- 4 tbsp natural yogurt (strained, Greek style is best)
- Season the lamb well. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan or casserole over a high heat. Add half the lamb and brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside while you brown the remaining lamb, then set aside as well.
- Add the chopped vegetables and garlic to the pan and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until tender. Don’t let them brown.
- Meanwhile, dry-roast the whole spices in a frying pan over a high heat for no more than a minute.
- Stir the spices into the cooked vegetables, then add the bay, vinegar and tomato purée. Return the meat to the pan and stir. Add just enough stock to cover the meat. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over a low heat for 1 hour.
- Add the apricots, but don’t stir into the stew. Re-cover the pan and cook for another hour. Keep checking to make sure the stock has not reduced too much – top up if needs be.
- Once the lamb is tender (you should be able to cut the pieces with a spoon), remove the pan from the heat. Check the seasoning, then gently stir the apricots into the stew. You can either divide between bowls and garnish each portion with a tablespoon of yogurt, or serve the yogurt on the side.
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