Yesterday I was feeling adventurous. And I had a bit of spare time. That usually means I can be found in the kitchen trying out new things to cook, and ultimately to eat. Coupled with that, the weather has changed ever so slightly, as well as the leaves on the trees and you can really start to feel that lovely autumnal feeling, especially when you leave the house in the morning. All this combined to mean one thing: some form of lovely, comforting stew would be on the menu.
I fancied doing different with our leftover roast lamb from the weekend, and as I had a bag of gorgeous figs that I had picked up for a song at my local market, that seemed like a good place to start. Now for those of you that don’t really approve of using fruit in savoury dishes, you really should give this one a go. I obviously had to keep the ingredients secret from most of the men in my family, as they all subscribe to the no fruit with meat school of thought, but none of them rumbled me and more importantly, they all loved it. Possibly more than the original roast, and that’s saying something. But then again, how could they not? Meltingly tender slow cooked lamb, with a very mild jammy sweetness from the figs and honey and a gentle warmth that is just perfect for October from the spices.
If this hasn’t sold it to you, think of the all the health benefits you’ll be enjoying in one bowl. Figs, full of anti-oxidants at this time of year, and low in calories, are also very high in fibre so keep you fuller for longer and less likely to be reaching for the snack cupboard later. The same goes for those chick peas. On top of that, you also have your lycopene rich tomato and allicin packed garlic, not to mention the incredible health benefits you get form adding herbs and spices to your diet. Delicious and nutritious.
Finally, if you are pushed for time after working all day or just running around, this is perfect if you make it the night before. Leave it simmering until you go to bed, right up until the stage when you add the figs, then stick it in the fridge so it is almost ready for you to devour the following night.
Moroccan Inspired Lamb and Figs
2 Red Onions
3 cloves garlic
1 red chilli (you could just use half if you want a little less heat)
1.5 tsp harissa paste
Half a tsp of turmeric
Half a tsp cinnamon
400g diced lamb (either leftover or shoulder)
1 tsp honey
4 fresh figs
2 tins of chick peas (400g)
1 tin of tomatoes (400g)
500 ml good quality beef stock
1 tsp olive tapenade
A large bunch of fresh coriander
Start by crushing your garlic and leaving it for ten minutes, as usual. Then slice your onions and soften them in a little oil with the finely diced chilli. This should take around fifteen minutes, more or less.
If you are not using leftover lamb, you will need to brown your lamb off in another pan whilst they are softening.
When they are nice and soft, slight turn up the heat and add the harissa, turmeric and cinnamon. After a minute or two, add the garlic.
When the garlic has just started to cook (only about a minute) add the tinned tomatoes, the lamb and the chick peas. Pour in the stock and honey and bring to the boil.
Turn the heat to a simmer and leave for a couple of hours if you are not using leftovers. If you are, you will probably need less time for the meat to hit that lovely tenderness that you’re looking for. Either way, when you have about half an hour to go, stir through your tapenade and the chopped figs and leave to simmer some more.
Chop your coriander and toss through the stew right before serving it with couscous.
Tuck in and enjoy!