Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lamb Chili

Take some ground lamb (from Sheepy Hollow if you can get it) and make an absolutely wonderful chili with it.
by Charlie Leck

I used white cannellini beans as a base along with one pound of ground lamb and then followed this recipe I got from a guy in the seafood department at Whole Foods. Don’t ask! I don’t know how it all happened. He just knew I was married to the “lamb lady” and thought I might like a new recipe. He said he got it from the New York Times (I didn’t go looking for it but you might want to), but he figured he remembered it well enough. He wrote the following down for me – just this way:

1 pound of ground, fairly lean lamb
Olive oil for browning
1½ tspoons of tomato paste (I used an Italian, doubled paste in a tube)
3½ cups of canned cannellini beans (pre-cooked)
1 onion chopped quite finely
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped (use some of the seeds if you wish spicier chili)
1 anaheim pepper, seeded and chopped
1 very small bunch of cilantro, cleaned
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tspoons of chile powder (or more to taste)
1 tspoon of coriander, ground
1 tspoon of cumin, ground

Here’s how he recommended I do the chili:

1.     Heat up the olive oil in a stove-top pot and brown the lamb, breaking it up, until it is well browned. Season it a bit with some salt and pepper. You'll put more in later. Move the meat to a plate covered with a paper towel.

2.     Brown the onions and peppers and cook them until they are soft. Add very finely chopped cilantro stems and leaves. Also stir the garlic in and allow everything to cook and brown for several minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and stir until it begins to cook and turns brown

3.     Return the browned lamb to the pot and stir it 4 cups of water and the beans. Add some more salt. Allow it all to cook slowly for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.    If the mixture becomes too thick, stir in some more water. I refrigerated the chili for about 6 hours and then reheated everything. It's the kind of thing you could leave in the frig overnight and serve it the next day (it will only improve).

5.   I served the chili in a bowl and put a dollop of yogurt on top of each serving and a wedge of lime on the plate beneath the bowl. I also garnished each serving with just a few of the cilantro leaves. I also served it with a glass of smooth, Spanish red wine (El Primavera)

This made a dang good looking and great tasting bowl of chili and the lamb gives the dish a lot more flavor than does beef.

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