Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Lamb" Stew with Dried Plums

Title say whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Soup with lamb and fruit?! Yes, you read correctly. Don't turn away just yet... let me convince you as to why you should read this and make this!

1. It's Hunger Games week and this is Katniss's favorite food
2. It's actually pretty good :)
3. I used Pork instead of Lamb
Come on everyone! Get in the spirit and make an authentic Hunger Games dish! It will make your viewing so much better :)

Day 3 of our week long Hunger Games series :) T minus 3 days & counting until the release of the first Hunger Games DVD

Click here to see Day 1.
Click here and here to see Day 2.
Click here to see Day 4.
Click here to see Day 5.

Before we get started... I realize using pork is not as authentic as lamb BUT the town I live in does not have something that exotic in the grocery store AND lamb is expensive (like $30 a lb)!!!! The recipe is still awesome, believe me, the official taste tester was asking for seconds. It's exotic, creamy, and filling all at the same time! If you want to use lamb, you can see the original recipe here.

2 - 2 1/2 lbs Pork Shoulder or Pork Loin, fat trimmed off
1/2 cup flour (this doesn't have to be exact)
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
3 cups chicken stock
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1/2 cup dried plumbs, diced
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
6 fresh mint leaves, diced (optional)

To start off, you are going to want to use a large stock pan or dutch oven that is both stove top and oven safe. This is the best method because you don't have to transfer between pans BUT if you don't have a pan that can be used for both, you can use separate pans and then transfer your stew.

Preheat your oven to 325°. Take your pork and cut it into small squares (mine were about an inch thick). Once your pork is cut up, grab a gallon size zip lock bag and throw your flour and pork into it. The amount of flour you use does not have to be exact, just use enough to coat your pork. Close your bag and shake it to coat your pork in flour. Throw the excess flour away.

Next, heat your olive oil in your pan on medium heat. Once heated, drop your pork in a single layer into the olive oil and brown for about 1 minute on each side. You will have to do this in batches because your pork won't fit in at one time. Also, the more batches you do, the thicker your oil will get (from the flour). If needed, add more oil. At one point, my oil was so thick that I just dumped it out and started with fresh oil which is also ok. Here is a picture of what your pork will look like after browning:

After all your pork is browned, remove it from the pan and set it aside. Toss your carrots and onions into your pan and cook for 3-5 minutes or until tender. To save time (and because I'm lazy), I used my food chopper to cut up my carrots and onions but you can do them by hand if you don't have one. Once your carrots and onions are cooked, the onions should have an orange tint to them from the carrots. Here is a picture of mine:

Once your carrots and onions are ready, add in your cinnamon, ginger, cumin, black pepper, and salt and then stir to coat. Add your pork back in and stir it up again, and then add in your chicken stock and stir it up again. Turn your stew down to medium-low and bring it to a simmer. Then, place your stew (covered) on the middle oven rack and cook for 1.5 hours. If you don't have a cover for your pan, you can use a piece of foil.

I took this hour and a half to clean up from the first round of the stew and cut up my sweet potatoes and dried fruits (and watch a little TV!). I was lazy again with the dried fruits so I put them in the chopper. You can't really do that with sweet potatoes so I had to do it by hand. Try and make sure your sweet potato cubes are about the same size so that they will cook evenly. My cubes were about 1/2 inch on all sides, but you can make yours smaller if you want. Here is a picture of what my dried fruits look like, chopped and ready to go:

Once your stew has finished cooking, add in your sweet potatoes, dried plums, dried apricots, and raisins and return the stew to the oven. If your sauce is thicker than you would like, add a little water into your stew. I added in about 1/2 a cup of water to mine. Cook for 25 more minutes. Once your stew is done, remove it from the oven and add in your mint.
I served my stew over hot buttered noodles and I think that really set off the dish. To do this, just boil some noodles of your choosing, drain them and coat in some butter. Here is a picture of the dish over noodles:
Happy cooking and may the odds be ever in your favor!


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