Slow-Cooked Lamb and Cinnamon Stew
This is the sort of dish you cook when you feel weighed down by the world and you want to retreat from it all with a bowl of something soothing
Inspired by one of my all-time favourite things to eat, Greek stifado with cinnamon, red wine and oregano, it fills the kitchen with an aroma better than any scented candle. With a handful of salty olives and creamy white beans added at the end, it brings everything together to make this stew the main event of any evening. As the stew slowly simmers over three and a half hours, the sauce reduces and the lamb becomes meltingly tender. It also freezes like a dream: simply double the recipe to have a stew waiting for you on a rainy day when you need it most.
- 500g diced lamb (I like to use leg or shoulder)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1⁄2 large white onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1⁄2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 200ml red wine
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1⁄2 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- a small strip of unwaxed lemon peel
- 400ml passata
- 1 handful of black olives, about 15, pitted
- 300g white beans from a jar, drained
- 100g feta, crumbled
- 1 handful of roughly chopped parsley, or leaves left whole
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Start by generously seasoning the lamb with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil on a medium-high heat and fry the lamb in batches, a third at a time, until golden brown all over. Remove the lamb from the pot with a slotted spoon and put on a plate to one side.
Add the onion to the pot and fry in the olive oil and lamb fat for a few minutes or until it starts to colour, then add the garlic. When the onion and garlic have softened, add the oregano and tomato purée and cook for two to three minutes, until everything starts to caramelise and catch on the bottom of the pot.
Pour in the red wine to deglaze the pot, making sure you scrape all the good bits from the bottom. Add the cinnamon, chilli, bay leaf and lemon peel, then return the lamb to the pot. Pour in the passata and 400ml water and stir until combined. Pop on the lid and simmer for three hours on a low heat, stirring every now and then to make sure it’s not sticking on the bottom.
Take the lid off for the last 30 minutes of cooking and add the olives and white beans. Stir everything together and continue to cook until heated through.
Spoon the stew into two bowls and scatter over the crumbled feta and parsley before serving.
Extract taken from Table for Two: Recipes for the one you love by Bre Graham (DK, £20). Photography by Issy Crocker