Cinnamon and lamb- such a winning combination.
I first discovered it in a recipe from Ottolenghi's book, "Jerusalem"- now one of my all-time favourites, in which he roasts aubergine filled with cinnamon, lamb mince and roasted pine nuts- trust me it's delicious.
The warming eastern spices that accompany the lamb in this dish make it the perfect winter stew served with some rather unusual rosti made from grated parsnips and nutmeg.
The stew is also one of those "one pot wonders" in which you cook everything in the same pot at a low heat for an hour and a half producing very tender, soft lamb and a deliciously thick and rich sauce.
Ingredients: (serves 2)
1/2 medium white onion
2 medium garlic cloves
Small knob of salted butter
Drizzle of olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Few small sprigs of thyme
175g diced lamb shoulder
1 dessert spoon tomato puree
Good quality chicken stock
Small handful soft dried prunes
1 cinnamon stick
175g unpeeled grated parsnip (roughly 2 medium parsnips)
11/2 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 beaten egg
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (fan.)
Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic cloves.
Add them to a medium-sized casserole dish along with the butter, thyme leaves and a small drizzle of olive oil. Put over a medium heat and sweat for 5-10 minutes until soft and just starting to turn golden. Add in the ground cinnamon and stir until the onions and garlic are well coated.
In a separate frying pan, add the lamb shoulder and fry on a high heat for 3-4 minutes until the lamb is just browned.
Remove from the heat and add the lamb to the casserole dish along with the tomato puree and stir well.
Pour in the chicken stock until it just covers the top of the lamb and season with salt and pepper. Add in about 5 large prunes, roughly chopped and lay the cinnamon stick on top.
Meanwhile, grate the parsnips with the skin on and add to a mixing bowl.
Season well with salt and pepper and add in the nutmeg and flour.
Stir well until the parsnip is coated in the flour. Add in the beaten egg and mix well with your hands until the mixture comes together. (You may have to add in a little more beaten egg.) Form the mixture into round patties and then lay on baking paper on a baking tray and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
Just before the stew is ready, put a frying pan on a high heat with a few tablespoons of groundnut oil. Once the oil is really hot, gently lay the parsnip patties in the pan. Turn the heat down slightly and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the pan and lay on some kitchen towel to remove any excess oil.
Serve the parsnip rostis alongside a good helping of the spiced lamb stew.