For those celebrating Easter, lamb is a tradition and with the lambing season upon us (running from approximately February to April), it is also the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of Spring.
For Jews, however, the tendency (particularly in Ashkenazi circles) is to opt for brisket during Passover seder. However, it is quite interesting to note that in the book of Exodus, we are given detailed instructions about eating lamb in anticipation of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. And while Jewish law discourages us from serving a whole roasted lamb (as it would be too similar to the Paschal sacrificial offering), there is no restriction on braised pieces of lamb. So why not delight your holiday guests with something different?
This lamb stew uses a typical braising technique, but makes life super easy by making it in a slow cooker. Just prepare your ingredients and place them in the slow cooker. Overnight, your lamb will cook to perfection. Make this dish ahead of time and you can freeze it – the flavors will only get better.
And, regardless of which holiday you’re celebrating, to fully enjoy the feeling of spring on a plate, contrast the heartiness of the stew by finishing the dish with a plentiful garnish of fresh parsley and lemon zest. Happy holidays to you and yours!
• 3 tbsp – olive oil
• 4 lbs – lamb shoulder (trimmed of excess fat and cubed)
• ½ cup – flour
• 1 – onion (sliced)
• 3 ounces – tomato paste (1/2 of a 6 ounce can)
• 2 tsp – cumin
• 2 tsp – paprika
• 2 cups – chicken or beef broth
• 1 – lemon (zested and juiced) – reserve zest for garnish
• ¼ cup –parsley (minced for garnish)
• Salt and pepper – to taste
1. Season lamb cubes with salt and pepper and allow to come to room temperature (30 minutes minimum)
2. Heat oil in a heavy skillet
3. Dry seasoned lamb cubes with paper towel and dredge each cube in flour
4. Sear lamb cubes in batches – don’t overcrowd the pan!
5. Place the seared lamb cubes in the slow cooker
6. Add tomato paste and a splash of stock to the skillet and cook for a few minutes, scraping the bottom of the skillet to lift the drippings from the lamb. Pour contents of the skillet over the lamb in the slow cooker
7. Add sliced onions, cumin, paprika, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the slow cooker
8. Cook in slow cooker on low for 8 hours
9. Once the lamb is tender, skim off excess fat from the surface of the stew and separate the meat from the sauce
10. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings and consistency (i.e. if the sauce is too thin, cook in a pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, to allow evaporation to reduce and thicken the sauce)
11. Recombine the meat with the sauce
12. Garnish with parsley and lemon zest