Lamb and Chickpea Stew

Lambandchickpeas1

I absolutely love the combination of meat and pulses; each of them, when put together seem to perform an amazing feat of alchemy, working to enhance the texture and taste of both ingredients.  In this recipe the lamb literally melts down into a velvety texture and combines with the downy quality of the chickpeas to produce a rich and deep flavour.

I use the combination of meat or fish with a range of pulses at least once a week, chicken thighs with cannellini beans, fish with puy lentils or as in this recipe lamb and chickpeas.  It’s a very economical way of eating expensive meat such as lamb, because the amount of meat required is more or less halved.  I made the meal in the photograph from discounted lamb shanks, which reduced the cost even further.  I prefer to cook this meal on the hob, as I’ve found that braising meats on the stove top seems to increase the tenderness and melting qualities of the meat. I was reminded of this technique by a Punjabi friend of mine, who commented that most Indian meat stews were cooked on the hob, because it tenderises the meat better.  Then I thought back to my Mother’s Irish Stew and how she cooked lamb that required lengthy cooking on the hob, with the most amazing results.  Since then I’ve been using the hob for all my braising dishes.  If, however, you prefer to do your braising in a low oven, then go ahead, I urge you not to be limited by my incompetence.   This would, of course, be a perfect recipe for a slow cooker.

 

Lamb and Chickpea Stew
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author : Kathryn Whitehill Preparation time : 20 mins Cooking time : 3 - 4 hours Serves: 4
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Home cooking
Makes: 4
Ingredients
  • 400g lamb, braising cut, neck fillet or shanks
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tin of chick peas
  • 400mls chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. First coat the lamb pieces in flour.
  2. In a frying pan, heat about 3 tablespoons of oil until sizzling.
  3. Add the lamb pieces to the pan and brown to seal, but down over brown them as I think this reduces the tenderness.
  4. Place in a large saucepan.
  5. Chop an onion quite roughly, I prefer onions in any stew to be quite robust rather than finely chopped, I think it gives a better flavour.
  6. Lightly brown the onions in the frying pan and then add the smoked paprika, cook for a couple of minutes longer.
  7. Now add to the lamb chicken stock, bay leaves, tomatoes and chick peas and cinnamon stick, bring everything to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  8. Simmer, covered on a low heat for 2 hours checking regularly.
  9. After 2 hours fish out the cinnamon stick.
  10. Remove the lid and simmer for a final hour uncovered. It is cooked when the meat is easily pulled apart with a fork, or if you are using lamb shanks, when the meat is falling away from the bone.
  11. If you would like to cook this in the oven, transfer the stew to an oven that has been pre-heated to 140 degrees Celsius, after the initial pre-frying and putting together stage. Check and stir on an hourly basis and use same tests as above to test whether it’s done.

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