Agnello Con Olive e Albicocche –
When I contemplate the word “lovely” in terms of food – I conjure up these descriptions: flavorful, spicy, velvety, tender, warm, lingering. When they all come together in the same dish, I think “success”. That is how I think of BRAISED LAMB WITH OLIVES AND APRICOTS . This is a dish that comes to mind every winter when I look for something hearty – yet not heavy – something memorable – something my guests will ask and wonder about.
Braising is culinary genius in my mind. It combines browning with slow gentle cooking and is the perfect preparation choice for many less expensive cuts of meat. It takes a tougher cut to absolute nirvana. In fact, I would not recommend it for a more tender cut of meat. Not only is it a waste, it just doesn’t yield the best result. When you think of “low and slow” or are looking to use your slow cooker, braising can be your very BFF!
BRAISED LAMB WITH OLIVES AND APRICOTS is one of those dishes that braising was made for – the browning of the outside of the meat, followed by the slow finish. I like to use a less tender cut of lamb like shoulder or stew. These cuts have just the right amount of sinew and fat and over time are brought to the perfect bite. With a little patience, these cuts just melt in your mouth.
This dish has Sicilian influence, with its use of spicier olives and dried apricots. It’s that Moorish touch of sweet fruit and a little spice that makes this dish differ from many other braised lamb preparations.
You can choose from several dishes to accompany: polenta, garlic mashed potatoes, or even Pappardelle pasta.
I go to this one again and again in winter. There is nothing like a fire in the fireplace and a Sicilian braised dish to warm the appetite as well as the Italian soul. Of course, at my house, we might add a blue note or two of Miles Davis in the background to set just the right tone. Get the idea?
BRAISED LAMB WITH OLIVES AND APRICOTS
(AGNELLO CON OLIVE E ALBICOCCHE)
Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 20 minutes
flour for dredging
2 lb. Lamb Shoulder, stew, or leg – cut into pieces
1/4 c. Olive Oil
1 Onion sliced
3 Cloves chopped fresh garlic
1 Cup Red Wine (dry)
3 Slices Lemon Zest (rind)
2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Sage
2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt and pepper as needed
1 c. Chicken Broth
1/2 Tsp. Allspice
1 Cup Sliced Dried Apricots
3/4 Cup Whole Kalamata Olives – pitted
2 Large Cloves garlic chopped finely
Zest of one Fresh Lemon
2 Tbsp. Parsley fresh – very finely chopped
2 Tbsp. Fresh Mint – very finely chopped
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
You can prepare the meat a day ahead, and it is probably better to do so to intensify the flavors.
Dredge meat in flour.
Brown meat in olive oil. Then remove to plate.
Add onion and garlic to pan – cooking about 3-4 minutes.
Add meat back to the pan and stir.
Add the wine to the pan and cook down a couple minutes, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the zest, herbs, broth, allspice, and salt and pepper ( to taste) to the pan.
Cover and cook for an hour at a simmer.
Then add the olives and apricots and simmer for 15 more minutes until tender.
To serve: mix ingredients for the Gremolata on the day you plan to serve.
Refrigerate. Sprinkle a little of the Gremolata over each dish.You don’t need much for each as it is just an essence that you want to add.
BRAISED LAMB WITH OLIVES AND APRICOTS is a beautiful dish to serve with intense flavors. Choose a wine to serve with it that will stand up to these flavors.
I would suggest that Barolo you have been waiting for, or a bold Barbaresco. Even a peppery Syrah, or Cabernet would pair well. This is a time to break out the bolder vino.
PARLA COME MANGI!
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