Lamb with Green Garlic
Spring is the season for green garlic: fragrant shoots with tiny young bulbs. Before individual cloves are formed, the green garlic resembles large green onions or baby leeks. Slow cooking results in the cloves becoming mild and creamy. This aromatic stew is a great main dish for a Passover dinner.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, as needed
3 to 4 lbs boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup water or meat stock
1/2 lb green garlic or 2 heads mature garlic
2 lb green onions (5 to 6 bunches)
Chopped fresh mint, dill, or flat-leaf parsley
1. Spread the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Warm about 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large, heavy sauté pan over high heat. Coat the lamb pieces in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess flour. Add to the hot oil, in batches, and brown well on all sides.
2. Transfer the lamb to a stew pot and add the tomato paste, vinegar, water or stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until the lamb is almost tender, 50 to 60 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the garlic and onions: Do not peel the green garlic. Instead, snip off the root end and slice into 2-inch lengths, using all of the green. If using heads of garlic, peel the cloves. Set aside. Trim the roots off the green onions and cut them into 2-inch lengths as well. Bring a saucepan filled with salted water to a boil. Add the green onions and green garlic and blanch for 2 minutes, then drain. Warm 2 or 3 Tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onions and sauté until they begin to take on color, about 5 minutes, seasoning them with salt and pepper as they cook. Remove from the heat.
4. After about 1 hour, when the lamb is almost cooked, add the sautéed garlic and green onions to the pot, re-cover, and continue to cook until the lamb is tender, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Spoon into a deep platter, sprinkled with the mint, dill, or parsley, and serve.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Adapted from Joyce Goldstein, Sephardic Flavors: Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean, Chronicle Books, September 2000
Photo by Leah Harb