With a perfect balance of sweet and savory, this Lamb and Sweet Potato Stew hits all the right notes when a cold front blows in. The stew is cozy, mildly smokey with just the right amount of fragrant spices.
This one-pot meal comes together easily by tossing together the toasted spices with cubed lamb, then cooking it with onions and tomato paste before simmering in red wine and chicken broth. Before serving add cubed sweet potato, prunes, and citrus zest for a sweet finish.
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorn
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pound cubed lamb (I look for all-natural lamb for stew, already cubed)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch evoo)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth (I like to use Better than Bouillon paste mixed with water or homemade)
2 cups peeled sweet potato, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
6 prunes, quartered
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
When cooking with whole spices, toasting them before grinding amps up their flavor and aroma in the final dish. In a small skillet, add the whole spices and heat over medium-low, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent burning. The spices are toasted when you can smell their aroma.
I use a mortar and pestle to grind the spices into a rough powder, but an electric grinder or works well too.
In a large bowl, toss the cubed lamb with a teaspoon of kosher salt and all the spices.
In a large stew pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the lamb in a single layer and let it brown for a minute on all sides. Add the onion and stir to combine, tossing the onion and meat until the onion shows signs of softening.
Push the lamb and onion to the sides, making a spot in the middle of your pan for the tomato paste to come into direct contact with your pan. Stir the tomato paste in the middle, allowing the fat and oil to cook the tomato until it is caramelized and brick red, about 5 minutes.
Add the wine and stock, and bring everything to a simmer before adding in the sweet potato. Turn down the heat and slowly simmer uncovered until the potatoes are tender, then taste and adjust the seasoning. If the stew seems too dry, add more chicken stock.
Add the prunes and citrus zest, stir and taste one more time before ladling into bowls and serving with hunks of good bread and glasses of good red wine.