Lamb and Sweet Potato Stew

November  3, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
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

  • Serves 4
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.

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I work in databases by day, but creativity is my outlet. Food - imagining it, making it, sharing it. And art, I come from a family of artists and have been collaging in my garage studio. You can see my work on Etsy in my shop AbbiesGarage https://www.etsy.com/shop/AbbiesGarage?ref=search_shop_redirect