Recipe: Braised Lamb with Quince
Our recipe this week is inspired by a recent event we did at the home of one of our silent auction winners from our Fall fundraiser event. This recipe for braised lamb with quince is a classic Persian stew that is typically made when quince are in season in the Fall. For those unfamiliar with quince, they are an apple relative but one that must be cooked as they can be quite astringent when raw. However, once cooked they provide a wonderful, flowery aroma and soft texture. I’ve enjoyed them in sweet applications such as a rustic apple quince cobbler or in a savory dish as we do here. Keep your eye out for this fruit in specialty markets or in the Fall at your local Farmer’s Market.
Anyway, for our take on this homey dish we took the resulting braising liquid a step further and reduced it down into a rich, velvety sauce or jus that we then drizzled back over the tender lamb along with some roasted root vegetables and fragrant basmati rice with saffron and turmeric. This dish definitely felt like Fall to me with its fragrant, warm aroma and spice. While the dish takes a bit of time and forethought, it can make for the centerpiece of your next dinner party!
1 4-5 lb Lamb leg or shoulder, Bone in
2 Quince, peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
1 Onion, medium dice
2-3 Quarts Chicken or Beef Stock, preferably homemade, enough to come about halfway up the side of the meat
1 pinch Saffron
3 Tablespoons Baharat (Persian Spice Mix) – Available in Middle Eastern Grocery stores like North Park Produce
5 Tablespoons Butter
Squeeze of Lemon Juice
1) Season the lamb meat all over with salt and the Baharat spice mix
2) In a large pot or dutch oven just big enough to fit the meat heat enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pot until smoke begins to come off it
3) Brown the meat in the hot oil on all sides. Take your time here and get it nice and browned as this is the base of flavor for the dish. Be careful to not burn the spices though.
4) Once browned set the piece of meat aside on a pan and lower the heat to medium low. Add the onion and saute, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until onion is softened
5) Return the meat to the pot and pour in the stock to come about halfway up the sides of the meat.
6) Add in a pinch of saffron to the liquid.
7) Bring to a simmer and cover with a lid or tightly with aluminum foil.
8) Place the pot in a 300F oven and slowly braise for about 2 hours. I will usually flip the meat over about halfway through so both sides get a chance to be submerged in the liquid.
9) After two hours add the quince and cover again. Braised an addition 30-40 minutes or until the lamb is completely tender but not quite falling apart.
10) Remove from the oven and remove the lid. Allow the meat to cool in the cooking liquid and then place in the refrigerator overnight.
11) The next day carefully remove the meat from the braising liquid and set aside. You will notice that the rendered fat will have risen to the top of liquid and solidified. Using a large spoon carefully remove this fat.
12) The liquid will have thickened due to dissolved gelatin from the meat and stock (this is great!). Gently warm the liquid on the stovetop and pour through a fine mesh sieve. Save the pieces of quince and set aside if you like to serve with the meat.
13) Pour the strained liquid back into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce this liquid until it begins to thicken (you should have about 2 cups or so left after its reduced)
14) Turn off heat. Carefully whisk in the butter a tablespoon at a time. You’ll notice the sauce thicken a bit more and take on a nice sheen.
15) Once all the butter is whisked in taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if needed.
16) Warm the lamb gently in the oven and slice. Served with rice and roasted vegetables and the sauce drizzled over.