Recipe: lamb stew with plums

by Cath on September 12, 2010

I know plum season is nearly over but I’m still getting plums through in my Growing Communities fruit bag which makes me suspect there may still be some out there on the streets of Hackney. Keep your eyes peeled.

Much as I love just eating plums raw, especially when they’re as soft and juicy as the ones I’ve been getting recently, I was keen to try something different with them.  It struck me it would be fun to try a savoury dish with them and last Sunday I had bit of a morning epiphany that lamb and plums would make a great combination.

A bit of scrounging around on the internet told me that lamb and plums are often combined together in dishes from Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan. I was aware that prunes were a common ingredient in stews in Persian food and related cuisines, and I read that a lot of Iranians in South Africa use fresh plums instead because they have such an abundance of fresh fruit there. So in the end I went for the sort of ingredients that work well in that kind of food and just gave it a go. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients – serves 4

  • 3-4 small onions, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic crushed
  • teaspoon of cumin, cinammon, ground coriander (I’m one of those liberal sprinklers with spices so I may have put in more than this – it really depends on how spiced you like your food)
  • 1/2 tsp of cardammon
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • lamb shoulder with the bone in
  • 400 ml lamb stock (I used chicken stock because I didn’t have lamb)
  • 10 small plums pitted and chopped (this was how many I had available but I think the more the merrier)
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning

Brown the lamb in a pan on the hob. Remove from the pan, add a bit of olive oil and gently fry the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent. Return the lamb to the pan, add the spices, tomato paste and plums and transfer to an oven proof casserole dish. Add the hot stock – I’ve recommended about 400 ml but it depends on how big your cut of meat is. You don’t want the stock to cover the meat because it won’t boil off that much and I found you end up with too much juice. Place the casserole in the oven at 180 degrees and leave to cook for about an hour and a half, turning the meat occasionally. If you have the patience and the time you could turn the oven down to 150 and go for a slower cook. The stew is ready when the meat is tender and falls off the bone.

I served this with couscous cooked in vegetable stock with sultanas and flaked almonds.

It was very much a trial and error recipe and I think it would be fun to play around with. A veggie version with butternut squash might work. Whatever your taste, I recommend trying plums in a savoury dish because they really do add something special.

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