Lamb and Sweet Potato Stew

November  3, 2011
0 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

When the first chilly nights of the season blow into Texas, I am, naturally, driven to start stewing, roasting, and baking. Lamb is often my protein of choice, regardless of the season or weather. Here it is stewed in a slightly sweet, mildly smoky, and most assuredly rich mix of good stuff —aargersi

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Aargersi is a marketing database manager living in Austin, Texas.
WHAT: A fragrant, slightly sweet lamb stew for the final days of winter.
HOW: Season cubed lamb with toasted spices, then cook it with onions and tomato paste before simmering in red wine and chicken broth. After sneaking in a few sips of the wine, add in cubed sweet potato, prunes, and citrus zest for a sweet finish.
WHY WE LOVE IT: With nothing on the forecast but rain and more rain, we're spending this week cozying up in our homes—and this is just the soup to do it with. The perfect mix of sweet and savory, this stew is bolstered by the gamey flavor of the lamb yet sweet enough to keep us dreaming of summer. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole white peppercorn
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pound cubed lamb (leg or shoulder will work—mine was just labeled "all-natural lamb for stew")
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups peeled sweet potato, cubed into about 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 prunes, quarted
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon, plus more if desired
  • Zest of 1/2 orange, plus more if desired
  • Lemon wedges, to serve
  1. In a small saucepan, toast the whole spices (cumin and white peppercorn) over medium-high heat for roughly 1 minute. Add turmeric and paprika, then the cinnamon. Once fragrant (it should smell pretty fantastic), place the toasted spices into a grinder or mortar (I use the latter) and grind them into a rough powder.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cubed lamb with a teaspoon of salt and the spices.
  3. In a large stew pot, heat the olive oil. Add the lamb and let it brown for several minutes. Push it aside and add the onion directly to the pan, and cook for a few minutes until it starts to soften and brown. Don't be alarmed by the fat and oil that will begin to accumulate in the pan—you want that, trust me. Push the lamb and onions to the side and add the tomato paste directly to the pan. Stir the paste to coat it in fat and oil, and cook until the tomato is caramelized, roughly 5 minutes. Follow your nose—it will smell deep and rich, rather than raw.
  4. Add the wine and broth and bring to a simmer, then add the sweet potato. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, then taste and adjust the salt. At this point, you can stop, turn off the heat, and let it rest on the stove, covered until dinner—it will just get better.
  5. If you've turned off the heat, bring the mixture back to simmering. Add the prunes and lemon and orange zest, stir, and taste. Add more lemon and orange zest to taste. This is a sweet-ish stew, so serve with lemon wedges, and some good bread, if you like. And wine.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • Bevi
  • Niknud
  • aargersi

Recipe by: aargersi

Country living, garden to table cooking, recent beek, rescue all of the dogs, #adoptdontshop

13 Reviews

SLFisher April 19, 2020
This was AMAZING. Family loved it.
jimbo February 6, 2017
This was delicious! No changes needed - it was simply perfection.
Not sure why anyone would change a recipe and then complain about it not working out. It wasn't the recipe Kevin - it was what you did to it!
kevin January 29, 2016
I loved this...HOWEVER, we used chicken thighs instead of the lamb (HEALTH NUT ;)) and swapped in some veggie broth for the chicken broth (you're welcome fellow vegetarians). Also, my husband no longer drinks alcohol after battling crippling alcoholism for 10+ years, so we used O'Douls instead of red wine. Could hardly notice a difference. Now, actually, upon reflection, we were not huge fans of the recipe. It was very ethnic tasting. But as they say, to each his/her own.
kaleandsalt September 20, 2015
This was very tasty, but I would have appreciated a cooking time for the lamb. Just from my own experience, I simmered the lamb until tender before adding the sweet potatoes, and it turned out beautifully but took upwards of an hour. I feel like if I had added the potatoes right away, they would have disintegrated before the lamb was as tender as I like it to be in stew.
LeBec F. April 12, 2015
a, nice job! I do want to make this.
1)plse tell me about your 'smoked sweet paprika'? Am i right that this is not Pimenton Dulce from Spain? Paprika varies so much. Where does yours come from and where did you find it?
2) did you consider using white wine in this? i find it goes really well with cumin. I discovered that affinity when a friend cooked a lamb with white wine and cumin from a French cookbook--long ago!
Th you for the inspiration!
Bevi November 8, 2011
And the best part is I made a lamb soup with the leftovers. I froze what I didn't eat for some future
Niknud November 7, 2011
Just wonderful. I too love lamb. In a boarderline obsessive way, frankly. Lamb burgers, lamb stew, lamb chops, lamb kebobs. What do you think about subbing out apricots for prunes and regular pots for sweet ones? (inventory of my pantry is running through my noggin) Trying to avoid the pre-snow storm shopping fiasco.....
Bevi November 8, 2011
I don't think you can go wrong. The spice rub really pulls it all together. The sweet flavor of dried fruit will come through, and the zest just zings it. It's a great recipe that I think can hold together with substitutions.
aargersi December 4, 2011
Just saw this - I think really any dried fruit that you love is fine. I am making it again tonight!
Bevi November 3, 2011
This is nice - do you think I could use lamb loin chops instead of stew meat? I have a hoard of them from Costco.
aargersi November 4, 2011
Absolutely Bevi! In fact they would probably be better - then you get to use the bones for lamb stock - bonus! I let mine sit then heated it back up and it was a bit thick, so I added more red wine ...
Bevi November 4, 2011
Then Sunday Dinner it is! Thanks for the bailout! I'm incredibly excited - will report back!
Bevi November 6, 2011
We had the lamb stew for dinner tonight and it was lovely. The spice rub perfumed the stew perfectly. I added a little extra wine, and served with a salad and bread. I wish I had made 8 chops instead of 4, but next time I will know better. While the stew was cooking, I stayed in the kitchen to indulge in the aromas that were blending together. I took your advice and let it sit, and then reheated and added the prunes and zest. This is a great recipe - thanks for sharing!