Monday, March 8, 2010

Lamb & Black Bean Chili

I serve a simple salad of mixed greens or butter lettuce, a full-bodied zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon and Indian fry bread or corn bread alongside this spicy and hearty dish. A light fruit dessert completes the meal.

Cut down on the chilis for milder palates.

In place of the cremas, squeeze fresh lime into the chili to round out the flavors.

Ingredients for lamb chili:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 pounds lamb from shoulder, boned and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 large Spanish onions, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and pureed
1 T chipotle puree [one chipotle chile in adobo sauce from a small can, finely minced, makes about a tablespoon]
3 T ancho chili powder
1 T pasilla chili powder
1 T ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 T dried Mexican oregano
5 cups chicken stock [cut this down to 2 1/2 cups if you don't have hours to spend cooking it down, or add masa harina to thicken]
1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer
dash of ground cinnamon
1 to 2 T honey
2 cups cooked or canned black beans
chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish

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Ingredients for cumin crema:
1 pint creme fraiche, Mexican crema or sour cream
1 T ground cumin
1 T fresh lime juice
salt and freshly ground pepper

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Ingredients for red onion relish:
2 T canola oil
2 red onions, finely diced
1 T minced garlic
1 serrano chile, finely diced with seeds
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
salt and pepper
3 T finely chopped cilantro leaves

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ingredients for avocado relish:
4 Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 serrano chiles, minced with seeds
2 limes, juiced
salt and pepper

Preparing the lamb chili:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the lamb, in batches, season with salt and pepper, and cook until seared and browned on all sides. Remove the lamb to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Add the onion to the pan and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, chipotle, and spices. Return the lamb to the pan, add the stock and beer; cover and cook at a simmer for over medium heat, about 1 hour, or until the lamb is tender and the mixture has thickened. After 30 minutes, check seasoning and add honey. During the last 15 minutes, add the cinnamon and cooked beans. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Ladle into bowls and top with a large dollop of cumin crema, avocado relish, and red onion relish.

Serve with fry bread.

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Preparing the cumin crema:
Whisk together ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

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Preparing the red onion relish:
Heat oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and chile to the pan and cook until soft. Add the lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Preparing the avocado relish:
In a large bowl, combine avocado, red onion, cilantro, chiles, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Fold until incorporated.

Serves 6 to 8


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