Lamb Stew

Lamb Stew with Lemon and Figs Served with Mint Yogurt

This recipe comes from one of Cheetah Tchudi’s CSA subscribers, Hazel van Evera. An avid home cook, Hazel preserves lemons and cures her own olives.


1½ cups plain yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped  mint
¼ tsp saffron threads-crumbled and soaked 20 minutes in ½ cup warm water
2½-3 lb Turkey Tail lamb, cut in 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1-3 preserved lemons or 1-3 small fresh (preferably Meyer) lemons, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 rounded tablespoon minced fresh ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (more to taste)
Quart jar diced tomatoes with juice
1½ cup dried figs, stems trimmed, quartered lengthwise (6-8oz)
6-8 oz fresh cured Isern olives
2½ cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Set strainer lined with double layer of cheesecloth over medium bowl. Place yogurt in strainer, cover and chill 3-5 hours to drain. Transfer yogurt to small bowl. Stir in mint, season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, cook lamb until brown on all sides, adding more oil as needed, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to large bowl.  Pour all but 1 TBLS fat from pot (or add if dry); heat pot over medium heat. Add onions; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add lemon, garlic, ginger, cinnamon and cayenne.  Stir 1 minute. Add saffron mixture; stir, scraping up browned bits.  Add tomatoes with juice, figs, fresh cured olives, and lamb with any juices to pot. Stir well, and then add 2 ½ cups broth.  Bring stew to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer until meat is tender, about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally and adding more broth by ¼ cupfuls as needed if dry. Season to taste.

Serve with a generous dollop of minted yogurt.

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