Lauren Groveman a recipe for delicious living

Lamb Curry, Simmered with Dried Currants and Scallions

(November 1, 2007)
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Bill asked Lauren:

Dear Lauren,

You had a curry lamb recipe in the local newspaper about 2 years ago... I've misplaced it. Can you print a copy of it here? It was great. Also, I was wondering if there was one specific type of curry that you prefer as there are several on the supermarket shelf. Also, could I use the same recipe for chicken as an occasional alternative to the lamb? Thx

Lauren says...

Curry powder is actually not "one thing," but rather a blend of over 20 herbs, seeds and spices. Jamaican curry is thought to be a bit sweeter and a more robust yellow color than the one called "Madras" curry blend, used in many Indian recipes, which is slightly hotter (and it's also my personal favorite). Again, each brand of any "type" of curry will be different, depending on that particular concoction. The brand of Madras I use is made by Sun Brand and it's sold in tins in the spice section of most well-stocked supermarkets. As far as using chicken instead of the lamb, absolutely, it's fabulous! Here's my recipe for Curried Lamb with a chicken variation. Enjoy!

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Lamb Curry, Simmered with Dried Currants and Scallions

Yield: serves 8

Curry

The distinctive scent of a curried stew simmering on the stove makes it hard to wait for dinner! The currants and sautéed onions add a subtle sweetness to balance the peppery taste of the scallions. And don't hesitate to make this one or two days ahead since the flavors only get more complex and wonderful. Lamb shoulder is relatively inexpensive compared to the rest of the animal and, to get the most meat for your money, purchase young lamb (between the months of May through the end of November); the meat of the younger lamb has a lower fat content than its older buddies. Shoulder meat is also preferred for its generous marbling, giving superb flavor and rendering it incredibly succulent after braising. However, meat from the shank is also quite good and even less expensive. Serve with cooked white rice.

    Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 1 ½ cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons regular olive oil, or more as needed
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken stock, heated
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • ¾cup dried currants
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 bunches scallions (green onions), chopped (trimmed white parts and 1 ½ to 2 inches of the tender green)
  • Cooked white rice, for accompaniment

1) To brown the lamb: Sprinkle lamb lightly with salt and pepper. Heat a 6-quart nonreactive Dutch oven over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the 3 tablespoons regular olive oil. When oil is hot, add some of the cubed lamb in a single layer without crowding and brown pieces on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, remove browned lamb to a plate and continue to brown the rest in batches, adding more olive oil if necessary to prevent sticking. Pour out any remaining oil from pot but don't wipe out the interior; set aside.

2) To sauté and simmer onions and garlic: Heat a separate 10- to 12-inch nonreactive deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. When oil is hot, sauté onions with 2 cloves of the minced garlic until softened and beginning to turn golden. Add wine and simmer onions and garlic until wine is reduced by 1/2. Scrape onion mixture into a bowl including any browned bits of onion and garlic clinging to the bottom and sides of the skillet.

3) To simmer the lamb: Heat the Dutch oven used to brown lamb over medium heat and, when hot, add 1/2 cup of the hot chicken stock. As the stock begins to bubble, scrape up all the browned bits of caramelized lamb. Add to deglazed pot, browned lamb, sautéed onions, the remaining 6 cloves of minced garlic, the remaining chicken stock and curry powder, stirring to incorporate all the ingredients. Bring mixture to a brisk simmer and reduce heat to very low. Simmer covered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, occasionally stirring mixture up from the bottom to prevent scorching. (The meat should be just almost perfectly tender. Add currants and simmer another 1/2 hour or until the meat is very succulent but not dry.

4) To finish the sauce and serve: While the lamb simmers, mix cornstarch and the cold water, stirring until thoroughly combined. After the last 1/2 hour of cooking, give cornstarch mixture a good stir and add to stew. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Fold in chopped scallions, lots of freshly ground black pepper and some salt to taste. Remove from heat to cool and spoon off any grease that rises to the top.

To serve, reheat the stew, covered, on the stove top over low heat, with the cover ajar, or in a preheated 350° F oven until piping hot throughout. While reheating, occasionally stir up stew from the bottom. Serve hot with cooked rice.

Timing is Everything:

  • Lauren Logo The vegetables can be chopped 1 day ahead and kept refrigerated in separate, well-covered bowls.

  • The stew can be assembled fully 2 days ahead. Once cool, pull a clean kitchen towel over the top of the pot and place the lid on top. The towel will catch any accumulation of condensation (rising steam) from falling into the stew and diluting the flavors. Refrigerate and bring to room temperature before reheating gently.

Chicken Curry Variation

Instead of the lamb, substitute 3 frying chickens (3 ½ to 4 pounds each), skin either left intact or removed (cut each chicken into 8 to 12 pieces (remove wing and leg tips and save in the freezer for stock). Season the pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Brown chicken in olive oil as directed for lamb and follow the remaining directions, adding the currants when you first assemble and simmer the stew. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce the cooking time to about 25 minutes, covered. Uncover and finish the sauce, as directed in the lamb version. When cooked properly, the chicken should be tender but not dry.

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Lauren Groveman recipes have been featured in many national magazines and local newspapers. Her books "The I love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends" and "Lauren Groveman's Kitchen, Nurturing Food for Family and Friends" are available through Amazon.com.

For in depth information on Lauren Groveman as a writer, teacher, TV & radio host, as well as her recipes and cooking tips visit her website at www.laurengroveman.com

Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and blessed with three wonderful children.