It’s been a while friends, and believe me it has been as painful for me to be away as it has for you. Of course I’m only kidding, there are far better food blogs to whet your appetite. Martin was away for a month and I began with ambitious plans. I was ready to cook things that he would not enjoy. Soups and beans, and … more soup. But I failed, I only made soup once and by the time I was done with that heaping pot, I was ready to be done with soup for a while. I also didn’t care to be creative or experiment. It’s easier to cook when you have an audience. For the rest of the month I ate eggs, beans, guacamole, and cauliflower (not all at once though). All this time I kept hearing about all the delicious Turkish food Martin was eating. As hard as I tried to imagine my cauliflower to be borek, it was not. Making something so extravagant for myself was also out of question. As Martin was preparing to come home, I was preparing my pantry. While he wanted no fuss salmon, I wanted lamb – fatty lamb!
I found this recipe on the Taste of Beirut blog. When I first saw this recipe my mouth was watering. When I read this recipe for the second time (after all the ingredients were purchased) I realized it was like a Pakistani Pulao. This was unfortunate because I don’t really care for pulao. I pressed on and made this and wasn’t disappointed. It was warm, comforting and delicious. While it has some of the same tones as pulao, the creamy texture is what set it apart.
1 cup yogurt
1 egg white
1 tbsp cornstarch diluted in water
6 cloves garlic
1 onion halved
1 bay leaf
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy pot. Begin by browning the lamb shoulders. Brown the shoulder pieces in batches, without overcrowding the pan. Once brown, transfer shoulders to a plate. After all of the pieces have been browned return the shanks to pot and immediately cover with water. Be sure that the shoulder pieces are completely submerged. Add the bay leaf, allspice berries, peppercorns, and onion.
Bring the stock to a simmer and skim periodically. Cook the shoulders for 1-3 hours until the meat is falling off the bones. Gently pull the shoulder pieces out of the stock and onto a clean work surface. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones. Continue to boil the stock down. The onion should be soft, and easily broken apart with a wooden spoon.
In a separate skillet, quickly saute the garlic cloves in a tablespoon of olive oil until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
Whisk the egg white lightly and mix with the yogurt and cornstarch. Strain the stock to remove large spices and return to heat. Slowly add the yogurt mixture to the meat stock and reduce the heat to a simmer allowing the mixture to thicken. Add the meat pieces back into the yogurt mixture as well as the garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with rice.
Recipe notes: As I said, this recipe reminds me of pulao but what you end up with is a very creamy lamb dish. It is also lamb, so be prepared for your food to taste and smell like lamb. I used lamb shoulder steaks, but you could also use shanks. For those of you who are stocked with South Asian spices, you could always just toss in a heaping spoon of whole garam masala in place of the spices I listed in the recipe. I strained my stock, because I don’t care for large spices in my food, but not a necessary step. Also, boiling down the stock will allow you to skip out on the nearly ½ cup of cornstarch suggested in the original recipe (yikes!). If you end up with about 4 cups of stock, you could use 1 cup of the stock to prepare your rice (YUM!) and remainder in the yogurt sauce.