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Moroccan lamb stew with an Irish twist - a perfect warming recipe for fall

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Irish lamb stew Maroc style
Irish lamb stew Maroc style
Fall has arrived here after a dismal summer.   The days are shortening rapidly and the evenings have a definite chill in the air.  So after a day of relentless rain when it feels colder than it actually is, the mind and stomach turn to comfort food.  I love long, slow-cooked dishes and like to experiment with recipes and ideas.  I am not very regimental about following a recipe and like to improvise depending on what ingredients I have or can get hold of.

I worked with a French Moroccan pastry chef some years back and visited him and his parents in Brittany, France.  His mother made a traditional lamb stew and this is my adaptation of her recipe.

Irish lamb stew Maroc style

450g (approx 1lb) lamb shoulder cubed

1 large onion diced

1 leek sliced

3 stalks of celery chopped

2 fat cloves of garlic crushed

1 heaped teaspoon of cumin and coriander seeds lightly crushed

450 ml/1 pint lamb or beef stock

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 aubergine cut into chunks

6-8 unsulphured dried apricots chopped

Handful almonds sliced finely lengthways

1 preserved lemon cut into small pieces

Method:

Toss the lamb pieces in a tablespoon of flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  Fry pieces until browned in a pan.  Set aside and deglaze pan.

In your stew pot (or large deep pan with a lid) soften the onions, leeks, celery and garlic.  Add in the spices and season.

Add the meat back into the onion spice mix. Pour in the stock and the tinned tomatoes, the apricots and the almonds and simmer for about an hour with the lid on. I simmered on the stove top but it can be done in an oven equally well.

About 15 minutes before serving and in a separate pan fry the aubergine in some oil until just beginning to colour and soften and add into the stew.

Finally chop the preserved lemon.  If you buy the really tiny ones then add a few to taste, but do taste as you add them.

Check seasoning.

This quantity will serve 4-6 depending on appetite.

Serving suggestion:

200g/7oz couscous with same volume of boiling water added

2 teasp. ground cumin

2 teasp. turmeric

1 red onion and 1 small courgette sautéed in some olive oil

Stir boiling water into couscous and stir vigorously with a fork until the water is absorbed and the grains remain separate. Cover with cling film or a plate to allow the steam to cook the couscous.  Soften the onion and courgette and add in the spices.  Add the vegetable mix into the couscous.

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