Lamb Stew with Almonds and Apricots

Following a from the NY Times the other day, I made a sweet lamb stew with honey, almonds, and apricots. The stew is a traditional lamb tagine called Mrouzia, prepared throughout North Africa during Ramadan.

I had several problems with the NY Times recipe, the first being that although the recipe calls for 3 lbs of lamb, if you look at the video instructions on the NY Times site, the chef is clearly using at least 4 lbs of lamb and is using 6 cups of stock to go with it. I used only 2 lbs of lamb, reduced the stock required by a third, and it still took way too long to reduce to the proper consistency.

The stew is also very sweet. Apparently a Mrouzia uses a lot of honey as a way to help preserve the meat in places without refrigeration. But, that’s not a problem here, and all that honey just makes it seem unbalanced.

Finally, I messed up and used regular whole raw almonds instead of blanched almonds (without skins). I don’t think it makes much of a difference, but every recipe I checked calls for blanched almonds.

The stew was actually terrific, especially after I balanced the sweetness a little with some fresh squeezed lemon juice. It is highly flavorful and very rich. What follows are the proportions of ingredients that I would use the next time I make this stew – less stock, a lot less honey and a little lemon to balance the sweetness.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder or neck, trimmed of fat and cut into 2 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 1/2 cups dried apricots, roughly chopped, or raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups almonds, whole and blanched
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 cup carrots, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped http://mizanticaret.com 


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