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Lamb and Black Bean Chili

Serves 8

Excerpted from
FRANK STITT'S SOUTHERN TABLE: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill
by Frank Stitt (Artisan Books).
Copyright 2004 Christopher Hirsheimer.
This isn’t your usual three-alarm chili; instead, it is a one-pot meal that is all about the slow development of flavors. The beans get a long simmer with lamb bones, extracting their very essence. Saffron, ginger, allspice, and red wine work in unison with the lamb. We like to serve this chili with fragrant saffron rice and garnish it with avocado, scallions, and sour cream.

For the Beans
1-3⁄4 cups black beans, rinsed, picked over, and soaked overnight in water to cover
2 pounds lamb bones (see Note)
4 thyme sprigs, 4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, and 1 bay leaf,
tied together to make a bouquet garni
1 garlic clove, crushed

For the Chili
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
11⁄2 pounds ground lamb shoulder
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced thyme
1 tablespoon minced hot red chile
2 to 3 canned chipotle chiles, chopped
11⁄4 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 scant tablespoon cumin
3⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
3⁄4 teaspoon each freshly ground white and black pepper
3⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Two 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, drained,
juices reserved, and coarsely chopped
3⁄4 cup red wine
Kosher salt

For the Rice
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed in a mortar or crumbled
2 cups basmati rice
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into thin slices
1⁄4 cup sour cream
Minced greens from 2 scallions

Drain the beans, transfer them to a large heavy saucepan, and add fresh water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and add the lamb bones, bouquet garni, and garlic. Reduce the heat and simmer, skimming off the foam occasionally and adding more water as necessary to keep the beans covered, until they are tender but not mushy, about 1 hour. Drain, reserving the liquid.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a bowl. Pour off the oil and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the lamb, and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until it is no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Return the onions to the pan, add the chili powder, ginger, thyme, red chile, chipotles, marjoram, cumin, allspice, and peppers, and stir well. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and half of their reserved juices and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add 1⁄2 cup of the wine and simmer, skimming and stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
Add the beans, bones, bouquet garni, remaining 1⁄4 cup wine, and salt to taste to the chili. Taste and adjust the
seasoning. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming and stirring occasionally and adding enough of the reserved bean cooking liquid and tomato juices to keep the chili moist.
While the chili is cooking, prepare the rice: Combine
4 cups of water, the cumin, coriander, and saffron in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 16 to 18 minutes.
Remove the bones and bouquet garni from the chili. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the rice into bowls and spoon the chili over it. Garnish with the avocado, sour cream, and greens, and serve.

note: Reserve the bones from lamb whenever possible and freeze to use here or to make Lamb Jus (page 341). Or ask your butcher for any lamb bones that would otherwise be discarded.

to drink: Ice-cold beer

Tagine of Braised Lamb Shanks with Dates, Ginger and Toasted Almonds

Makes 4 servings

For the spice mix:
1 1/2 teaspoons Jordan zahtar
1 teaspoon ras al hanhout
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the Jamison lamb shanks:
2 tablespoons extra-vrigin olive oil
4 Jamison lamb hind shanks, about 3 pounds total
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 piece gingerroot, about 2 inches long, peeled and sliced
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 tomato
1 tablespoon flour
3 cups unsalted veal or lamb stock, or low-sodium beef broth
2 sprigs thyme
2 Earl Grey tea bags
8 dates, pitted

1) Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2) Warm the olive oil in a roasting pan over high heat. Season the lamb shanks all over with some of the spice mix. When the oil is very hot, add the lamb shanks and brown well on all sides, about 20 minutes total. Transfer the lamb to a plate for the moment and lower the heat under the roasting pan.

3) Add the onion, carrot, garlic and ginger to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are lightly browned. Stir in the tomato paste and tomato and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the flour and cook, still stirring, for 1 minute. Return the lamb shanks to the pan, pour in the stock and add the thyme. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid or a piece of parchment paper and transfer the pan to the oven. Braise, basting every 20 minutes or so, for 2-2 1/2 hours until very tender.

4) Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, remove from the heat and add the tea bags. Cover and infuse for 10 minutes and then discard the tea bags. Soak the dates in the tea for 5 minutes until they are soft. Drain the dates, reserving the tea for later use. Press the dates through a sieve to obtain a sweet purée.

5) When the lamb is finished braising, stir in the date purée. Transfer the lamb shanks to a warm platter and place the roasting pan over high heat. Reduce the liquid by half, season with some of the spice mixture, salt and pepper and then strain over the lamb shanks.

For the garnish:
24 prunes
2 tablespoons white raisins
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
reserved tea
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 fresh artichoke hearts, cleaned and each cut into 8 wedges
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced on the bias 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

1) Rehydrate the prunes and raisins in the reserved tea. Drain and then roll the prunes in the sesame seeds.

2) Warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the artichokes, onions and carrots, season with some of the spice mixture and cook, stirring regularly, for 6-8 minutes until the vegetables are well caramelized and the artichokes are fork tender.

To serve:
Put the caramelized vegetable mixture on the bottom of 4 warm tagines and top with the lamb shanks. Spoon the sauce over the lamb and garnish with the raisins, sesame-coated prunes and toasted almonds.

Roasted Saddle of Lamb with Mustard Spinach Spaetzle and Cabernet

Serves 8 –12
depending on portion size

1 Lamb saddle with flaps
fresh ground white pepper
2 cloves peeled garlic
butcher twine

½ # high gluten flour
pinch baking soda
fat pinch baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dry mustard
5 fl ounces spinach milk (see note)
2 whole eggs
2 ounces unsalted butter to reheat the spaetzle before servingNote: blanch, shock and wring dry a big handful of spinach leaves, puree with approx. ¼ cup milk to make 5 fl oz total.

Rutherford Red Wine Sauce
½ cup finely minced shallots (must be hand cut)
2 tablespoons finely chopped bacon
4 black peppercorns, crushed
2 cups Rutherford Red Wine
2 cups fine veal stock
2 ounces unsalted butter
salt to taste

With a boning knife, carefully cut each side of the saddle (loin and tender) away from the bone keeping the flaps intact. Trim the fat along the loin to an even 1/8th of an inch. Trim, and pound as necessary, the fat on the flaps to the same thickness. Season the meat and fat with salt and fresh ground white pepper and rub the fat with the garlic before rolling up and tying securely with butcher twine.

Spaetzle prep
Mix separately the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and mix well to develop the gluten. Let the batter rest at least 10 minutes. Make a spaetzle cooking setup with a 600 pan filled with 2 ½ inches of boiling water topped with a 200 perf pan. Using a plastic spatula force the batter through the perf pan into the boiling water below, 2 cups per batch, and cook each batch for 30 seconds. Remove with a spider and chill in ice bath, then drain on a sheet pan covered with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining batter until done. Reserve in fridge until ready for service. Will keep overnight but it’s best used the same day.

Rutherford Red Wine Sauce
Use a good enough red wine that you would not be ashamed to drink it. I’m particularly fond of the great red wines produced in the Rutherford Appellation. Combine the shallots, bacon and cracked pepper in a saucepan and cook over moderate heat until the fat is rendered and the shallots barely begin to brown. Deglaze with red wine and reduce until about ½ cup remains. Add the veal stock and continue to simmer and reduce, skimming impurities from time to time. When sauce begins to thicken slightly remove from heat, verify and adjust seasoning and whisk in the unsalted butter. Reserve warm.Service

Season the outside of the lamb with salt and pepper. Sear golden brown on all sides and roast in a 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes for perfect pink lamb. Allow to rest out of the oven at least another 10 minutes before slicing. In the meantime heat the remaining butter for the spaetzle in a sauté pan until it just begins to brown. Add the spaetzle and shake the pan immediately to prevent sticking. Sauté for 3 or 4 minutes until they crisp a little on the outside. Place a few spoonfuls in the center of each warm plate. Top with sliced lamb and surround with sauce.

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