Lamb and Bean Stew


Here is a recipe for a delicious stew of lamb and beans that I have made variations on a few times this year. It ends up a sort of hybrid between Indian preparations of dried beans and southern European stews/braises. As always, I use Rancho Gordo beans. My preference is to use large white beans (I’ve made it with Ayocote Blanco and Large White Lima) but smaller beans like their Flageolet or Alubia Blanca will work just as well.  For the lamb I like to use lamb neck. We get our lamb neck (and other cuts of lamb) from the excellent Goette Farms in southern Minnesota. I realize lamb neck may not be easily available everywhere. I like it because the neck bones make for excellent flavour in the stew as the meat slowly becomes tender. If you don’t have lamb neck available use whatever bone-heavy cut of lamb you can.

Ingredients

  • Lamb neck or other bone-in lamb roast, 1.5 lbs or so, seasoned all over with salt and pepper and set aside
  • 4 cups cooked and drained Rancho Gordo Ayocote Blanco beans or similar
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 head garlic, two large cloves freshly grated and the rest, peeled and left whole
  • 3/4 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • The following ground together to a fine powder: 2 small pieces cinnamon/cassia bark, 1 tspn black peppercorn, 1 tspn cumin, 2 tspns coriander seed, 1 large Kashmiri chilli or similar
  • 1.5 cups crushed tomato
  • 2-3 cups hot water fresh off the boil
  • 1 tspn jaggery/dark brown sugar
  • A big pinch dried oregano
  • 2-3 tblspns neutral oil of choice
  • Salt
  • 1 tspn chopped chives for garnish

Preparation

  1. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat and when hot brown the seasoned lamb neck all over, about 5 per side.
  2. While the lamb is browning, heat the oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven (enameled cast iron is best), add the onion and saute till beginning to brown.
  3. Add the grated garlic, mix in and saute till the raw aroma is gone.
  4. Add the whole, peeled garlic cloves and stir to brown just slightly (don’t let them scorch).
  5. Add the haldi and ground spices, mix in and stir for a minute or so.
  6. Add the browned lamb to the pan and roll to coat slightly with the contents of the pan.
  7. Add the tomato and salt, mix in and saute, stirring often, till the oil begins to separate.
  8. Add the water, mix in, cover and cook over low heat till the lamb is almost done.
  9. Add the oregano and the cooked, drained beans, mix in, add a little more water if necessary, cover and cook for a little longer till the lamb is completely done.
  10. Remove the lamb to a cutting board and pull all the meat off the bones and roughly chop it.
  11. Pour the contents of the pan into a large serving dish, mix the chopped lamb in, garnish with the chives and serve.

Notes

  1. I drop a couple of tez patta/dried cassia leaves/dried “Indian bay leaves” and a small piece of cinnamon into the bean pot. With the Ayocote Blanco I did not soak the beans. Just rinsed them, covered with a few inches of water, brought to a rolling boil for 10 minutes, lowered to a simmer and cooked covered till the beans were done (adding more water as necessary along the way to keep the beans well submerged). I drain four cups of the cooked beans for this recipe and save the other two cups for a different use (coming next month maybe).
  2. Don’t worry about all the whole garlic. When it’s done you won’t even know they were ever there.
  3. Kashmiri chillies are easily available from Amazon if you don’t have a desi store near you [affiliate link] but any large mild chilli will do.
  4. I used chives for garnish in the pictured version as we have an excess in my herb garden. I liked it this way but have also liked it with cilantro.
  5. We eat this straight out of the bowl. You may want to deploy some crusty bread to mop up the stew. And it might even be good over rice a la curry.

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