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Fragrant Lamb with Prunes & Almonds

Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys, David Tanis / December 2010

For 6 servings

• salt
• black pepper, freshly ground
• 6 lbs. lamb shanks or 4 lbs. boneless lamb shoulder, fat trimmed
• 3 Tbsps. unsalted butter
• 2 onions, thickly sliced
• 1/8 tsp. saffron threads
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 2" piece fresh ginger, cut into slivers
• 1 sm. cinnamon stick
• 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
• 2 tsps. cayenne
• 1 tsp. coriander seeds
• 1 tsp. cumin seeds
• 2 cups pitted prunes
• 1 cup golden raisins
• 4 cups chicken stock
• 1 cup tomato puree
• 1 cup blanched whole almonds
• 1/8 tsp. granulated sugar

  1. Heat oven to 325°F.

  2. Season lamb generously; reserve.

  3. Heat 2 Tbsps. butter in large skillet set over medium heat; add onions; season with salt; crumble saffron over top; cook until slightly softened (about 5 minutes); stir in garlic, fresh ginger, cinnamon, ground ginger.

  4. Place lamb in Dutch oven; spread onion mixture over meat; add stock and tomato puree; cover with aluminum foil; cover with tight-fitting lid; cook in oven until meat is tender (about 2 hours); remove from oven; add remaining 1 cup prunes, making sure they are submerged in liquid; raise heat to 400°F; return lamb to oven; cook, uncovered, 15 minutes; remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.

  5. Strain liquid from lamb; reserve lamb (keep warm); reduce stewing liquid to desired consistency; reserve (keep warm).

  6. To serve, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in small skillet set over medium heat; add almonds; cook until brown; remove with slotted spoon; place on paper towels to drain; sprinkle with sugar and salt; place stew on large serving platter; pour reduced sauce over top; garnish with almonds.