When the days get colder or the life gets hectic, I ditch the stove and throw myself in a love affair with my slow cooker. Stews, curries, soups and even roasts get going in my magic pot on almost daily basis. This slow cooker lamb casserole is one of my regulars, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you guys.
I love lamb with sweet dried fruit, like apricots, and warm spices. This combination goes way back and spans across multiple culinary traditions from North African to the Middle East. Dried fruit and spices cut through the fattiness of the lamb, and highlight and even enhance the savoury and meaty notes of the dish. Served with a simple cauliflower ‘couscous’ or ‘rice’, or regular rice or potatoes, this meal will make you dream of Marrakesh, sandy desserts and perfumed apricot orchards.
- I used diced lamb steak in this recipe. You can buy lamb leg or shoulder and cut it into chunks. Other cheap cuts of lamb, beef or pork meat would also work well in this recipe.
- Dried apricot can be replaced with a few dates or figs for a similar result. When buying dried apricot, go for the darker, brownish looking fruit, which hasn’t been treated with sulfites (preservative used to give dried apricots that gorgeous, orange colour).
- I love adding toasted almond flakes to this stew but you can easily go without. I think it adds a nutty flavour and lovely texture to the dish.
- Make simple cauliflower rice or regular rice for this dish. Check out this gorgeous, fragrant cauliflower couscous recipe I shared over at Balance Festival website. A side of greens will do just fine as well.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 700 g /1.5 lb lamb steak, diced
- 1 large carrot, sliced thick
- 4 peels of lemon (not 4 lemons, but rather 4 small peeled ribbons of the rind)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1½ teaspoon coriander seed powder
- ½ teaspoon allspice (optional, a few cloves can be used instead
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 large cloves of garlic, sliced
- 6-7 dried apricots, sliced in thirds
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup toasted almond slivers
- Handful of chopped fresh parsley
- If your slow cooker vessel is heatproof, place it on the stove over medium-high heat. Alternatively, use a large frying pan or saucepan for this first step.
- Add the onion, coconut oil and salt and sauté for 2 minutes. Follow with the lamb, carrots and lemon peel, and stir through for a minute. Now add the spices and stir through to release the aromas before adding the rest of the ingredients (except for almonds and parsley). Stir through and bring to a boil.
- Place the vessel with the lamb stew back on the slow cooker base and set to HIGH for 4 hours, MEDIUM for 6 or LOW for 8 hours. If using a different saucepan, transfer the contents to the slow cooker vessel and set the timer as mentioned above.
- After 4 or more hours, as per your heat setting, transfer the slow cooker vessel to the stove and set the heat to high. Again, if the vessel is not heatproof, transfer the casserole contents into a saucepan. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate. Add the almonds half way through and mix together (reserve a few almonds for garnish). Taste for salt and feel free to add some chilli, if you like.
- Serve with cauliflower rice or couscous, regular rice or some greens.
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