Garlicky Lamb and Rice Pilaf

This hearty and simple meat and rice pilaf from Andrew Zimmern is one of the most popular dishes across Central Asia. Slideshow:  More Lamb Recipes 

Total Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
6 to 8


  • 6 ounces lamb fat, cut into 1/2-inch strips (see Note)

  • Kosher salt

  • Pepper

  • 2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped

  • 20 garlic cloves

  • 3 medium carrots, shredded

  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds

  • 2 tablespoons za'atar

  • 7 cups low-sodium beef broth

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice

  • Chopped parsley, for serving


  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, cook the lamb fat over moderately low heat until rendered and the cracklings are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the cracklings with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with salt. Leave the fat in the casserole.

  2. In a medium bowl, season the lamb with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Add one-third of the lamb to the casserole and cook over moderate heat until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned meat to a plate. Repeat with the remaining lamb.

  3. Add the onions to the casserole and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the shredded carrots to the casserole along with the cumin and za'atar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are just softened, about 2 minutes.

  4. In a saucepan, bring the beef broth to a simmer. Return the lamb and any accumulated juices to the casserole along with the rice. Add 2 cups of the broth to the rice and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed, about 4 minutes. Repeat with another 2 cups of broth, cooking until absorbed. Stir in the remaining broth. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the rice is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the casserole from the heat and let stand uncovered for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with the cracklings and parsley and serve.

Make Ahead

The dish can be refrigerated overnight. The cracklings can be kept in an airtight container overnight; recrisp in a low oven if necessary.


Ask your butcher for lamb fat.

Suggested Pairing

Spice-inflected Chianti Classico.

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