Wild lamb flavor is tamed with rich, winter spices: cinnamon, ground coriander, fresh ginger and cumin, and then finished with honey roasted figs, piquant pomegranate seeds and the complex citrusy flavor of cilantro. Serve it over couscous, quinoa or rice or sop up the juices with fresh bread–it’s your choice!
I have figs and I have lamb.
Both of which are, in my opinion, under appreciated foods.
Lamb is beef on steroids. Deep red and tender but with a wild gamy flavor that takes a little getting used to. It brings notes of earth and umani to a dish and can stand up to spice and heat in a way that beef cannot.
Figs taste of honey and sweetness. Fresh figs are soft and pulpy with a little bit of crunch from the seeds. I love fresh figs. Especially the ones I grow in my garden. I add them to salads. I eat them with cheddar cheese and fresh bread. I make them into jam and bake fig tarts.
And sometimes I use them in savory dishes like this Moroccan Lamb Stew with Couscous.
Slow cook onions in a little olive oil until they are soft and translucent. Add the spices and cooking them, stirring, until they have released their fragrent oils and you can breath in the rich aroma. Stir the lamb into the spices until it is well coated then add your cooking liquid.
(A word about stock: don’t obssess about it. Use a good stock, unsalted. If it’s homemade, great. And if the recipe calls for chicken stock and you only have beef stock, it will work just as well. I have even gone the other direction and used chicken stock when beef was called for. For this recipe I used a can of beef consume–it was all I had!)
When the lamb is tender and easy to peirce with a fork, separate it from the sauce and set it aside. If you have time, refrigerate the cooking liquid until the fat has risen to the top and solidified. Then you can easily remove it.
To finish the lamb, bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat. Make a smooth paste out of cornstarch and a little of the lamb liquid. Pour the paste into the sauce and stir while it is at a low boil until the sauce has deepened in color and thickened. Taste it and season with salt and pepper as needed. Return the lamb to the meat and keep it warm.
While you are finishing the sauce, roast the figs. Cut the figs in half and brush them with olive oil and honey. Roast them in a hot oven for ten minutes then stir them carefully into the lamb. Add some pistachios and fresh herbs then serve it over couscous, quinoa or rice. Finally scatter pomegranate seeds over it all.
Spicy lamb, soft honeyed figs, crunchy pistachios, fresh green herbs and sweetly sour pomegranate seeds, it checks off all the boxes!
MOROCCAN LAMB WITH HONEYED FIGS
For the lamb
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onions
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 lbs lamb
- 1 c beef stock
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- Salt to taste
For the figs
- 12 figs
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ c chopped pistachios
- 1/3 c chopped cilantro and mint leaves
- Pomegranate seeds
Cook the Lamb
- Heat the oil to a shimmer and add the onions and chopped garlic. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the fresh ginger and the spices and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring, until the spices have released their oils and are fragrant .
- Cut the lamb into 2” chunks. Add the lamb to the pot and toss to coat with the spices. Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for an hour until the lamb is tender and easily pierced by a fork.
- Separate the lamb from the cooking stock and allow the stock to cool. Once the fat has risen to the top of the stock, use a spoon to remove it.
- Continue with the dish from the point or refrigerate overnight.
- When you are ready to finish the dish, heat the stock to a low boil. Make a thin paste out of the cornstarch and a little of the stock. Pour that into the stock and continue to boil, stirring until the stock has darkened in color and thickened.
- Return the lamb to the stock and keep warm.
Roast the Figs
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the figs in half and arrange them on a foil lined baking tray. Mix together the honey and olive oil and brush the mixture over the figs. Roast in the oven for ten minutes.
Finish the Dish
- Add the roasted figs, pistachios and fresh herbs to the dish and stir lightly to mix them in. Taste and add salt as needed.
- Serve the lamb over couscous, quinoa or rice. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the lamb just before serving.