Oh how I wish I had the budget to enjoy lamb on a more regular basis. Alas, humanely raised lamb (eating poorly treated baby animals feels just plain wrong) costs a lot more than humanely raised chicken, leading to a tragic absence of lamb chops in my life. However, ground lamb is pretty affordable, and lends itself to many delicious applications, like this Moroccan-inspired lamb and chickpea stew. I dare not call this a tagine, because authenticity is not really what we are after here, although the cinnamon, cumin, and golden raisins are all elements of Moroccan cuisine.
Yep, I said raisins. Normally, I consider raisins only slightly more edible than say, dried ants. However, as the stew simmers, the raisins will plump up and take on the flavor of the spiced broth. That slight bit of sweetness is essential, so take it from a raisin-hater, you need them here!
I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light, and for once, did not make many changes that end up a far less "light" result. I did cook the veggies in the lamb fat, because I would hate to let it go to waste. The major change was simmering the dish, covered, for 25 minutes, instead of the recommended 4, because come on. Those 25 minutes are a great time to clean-up.Ha. Who the heck am I kidding? It's also a good time to spend on the internet, ignoring all the dishes in your sink.
Serve the lamb and chickpeas over couscous or with some sort of bread (naan, perhaps?) to soak up the broth.
moroccan style lamb and chickpeas
adapted from Cooking Light
1 lb of lean ground lamb
2 cups onion, sliced (1 large onion)
1/2 cup carrots sliced diagonally into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Heat a Dutch oven or large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook until thoroughly browned, about 6 minutes, stirring to crumble. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked lamb, and set aside. Reserve a tablespoon of fat in the pan; drain the rest.
Continuing over medium-high heat, add the onions and carrots and saute for 4 minutes. Add the spices and saute another minute. Add the chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any burned-on bits. Add the lamb, the raisins, tomato paste, lemon rind, salt, and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
Remove from heat. Add the chopped cilantro and fresh lemon juice just before serving.