Lamb Braised with Apricots, Dates and a Leek Risotto

, from Issue #19. September, 2015
Photography by Damien Van der Vlist.
Lamb Braised with Apricots, Dates and a Leek Risotto

Serves: 4-6


1 kilogram lamb shoulder chops
2 teaspoons flour
1 teaspoon each ground ginger, cinnamon, coriander and turmeric
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 baby onions, peeled leaving root end intact
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid honey
1 x 400 gram tin crushed Italian tomatoes
600 ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves
150 grams dried apricots
8 fresh dates
chopped coriander

Leek risotto
3-4 cups chicken stock
pinch saffron threads, toasted – optional
2 tablespoons olive oil
small knob of butter
1 large leek, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup risotto rice, such as Arborio
½ cup white wine
small knob of butter
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan


Lamb: Combine the flour and spices in a bowl. Dust the lamb on both sides, shaking off the excess. Keep the remaining flour/spice mix. Heat the oil in an ovenproof sauté pan and brown the lamb on both sides. Be careful not to let the flour catch and burn on the base of the pan. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onions, garlic and fresh ginger to the pan and cook until the onions are soft. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir into the onions. Add a splash of stock if the pan is too dry. Cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat and pour in the vinegar and honey, letting it bubble up. Scrape the base of the pan to release any sticky bits. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, bay leaves, the lamb and any juices. Season, cover and cook for 1 hour then stir in the apricots. Cook for a further ½ hour until tender.

Risotto: Combine the stock and saffron in a saucepan, heat and keep hot. Melt the butter with the oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat and cook the leek and garlic with a pinch of salt.

When tender, add the rice, stirring well to coat each grain in the oil. Cook for another minute until the rice is warm (toasted).

Add the wine and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Begin adding the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring and allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next quantity. When the risotto is tender to the bite and has a creamy consistency, after about 20 minutes, add the knob of butter and Parmesan and stir to combine. Season well.

To serve: Add the dates to the lamb. Spoon the risotto into warm serving bowls and top with the braised lamb. Divide the onions, apricots and dates between the bowls.