Sometimes I’m thrilled when I open the fridge and see nicely wrapped packages of leftovers. “Ah,” I think to myself. “Dinner is going to be easy tonight. Thank goodness I have a microwave.”
Other times I cringe. “Oh, no! Not more turkey.”
This Christmas produced a lot of leftovers from the leg of lamb I cooked Christmas Eve. We had a multitude of company, so I cooked mussels and grilled lamb. Everyone ate the mussels but not much of the lamb. Well, they ate the rare slices and left the rest.
I’m not a fan of well-done lamb, so I had to be creative. At times like this, I turn to Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery, a 200-page book full of delicious dishes. That’s where I found a recipe for Lamb with Spinach.
It wasn’t a very exciting-sounding main dish. It called for uncooked lamb, but I figured I’d just cook it less. Also, I didn’t have any spinach. But I did have beet greens—the greenery attached to raw beets—and that’s almost like spinach.
I adapted the recipe to the ingredients I had and added lots of spices. Less than an hour later we were eating a very tasty lamb stew. Too bad there’s none left for dinner tonight.
Spicy Lamb Stew – serves 3-4 (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery)
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil6 whole black peppercorns3 whole cloves3 cardamom pods1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped2 teaspoons chopped garlic1-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped1 - 1 1/2 pounds cooked lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes1 teaspoon ground cumin1 teaspoon ground corianderFew dashes cayenne pepper1/2 teaspoon salt3 tablespoons plain yogurt1/4 cup milk or waterBeet greens from 3 beets, washed and roughly chopped (or 1 pound fresh spinach or
10-oz box frozen spinach)
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the peppercorns, cloves and cardamom pods. Stir for a few seconds. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and stir and fry until the onions soften.
Add the meat, cumin, coriander cayenne pepper and salt and stir until well mixed. Add the yogurt and milk and stir again.
When the mixture returns to a boil, add the beet greens (or spinach), stir and cover tightly. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until the greens have cooked. Serve immediately. The whole spices are not meant to be eaten, so remove them or ask diners to remove them.
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