Catalan cooking is known for its combination of dried fruit and meat. In this rich and nutty dish, Janet Mendel combines prunes and carrots in a sweet sauce that enhances the earthy lamb, echoing two characteristics of the region's bold Garnacha-based wines.
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3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water
One 1-inch strip of lemon zest, minced
Pinch of ground clove
Pinch of ground ginger
1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup boiling water
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts
How to Make It
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add half of the lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned on 2 sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining lamb.
Add the garlic and onion to the saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the wine, 1/2 cup of water, lemon zest, cloves and ginger. Return the lamb to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, cover the prunes with the boiling water. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the prunes with their cooking liquid and the carrots to the stew. Cover and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
In a medium skillet, cook the pine nuts over moderate heat, shaking the pan a few times, until the nuts are toasted, about 4 minutes. Let cool.
Season the stew with salt and pepper and spoon into bowls. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and serve.
Serve with a plummy, powerful Catalan Garnacha.
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