My advice is to let the stew sit for a couple of days because it sure does improve with age. Make sure you use golden raisins - otherwise the stew will look like there are lamb pellets in it! (Most likely only a sheep farmer would think of this!) Enjoy!
Persian Lamb and Rhubarb Stew
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 pounds lamb shoulder – bone-in
(lamb stew meat can be used although the bones will add more flavor)
1 Tbsp tomato paste or a small can (14 oz.) Italian tomatoes
1 pound rhubarb – cut into 1 inch pieces with stringy bits removed if the skins are very thick
1/2 cup raisins (preferably golden)
2 Tbsp sugar
¼ cup minced mint or parsley or a mix of the two – whatever is easier – for garnish
In a dutch oven, brown the onion and garlic until onions are translucent in 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and cook until spices begin to smell lovely. If it begins to stick, add a little bit of water to create a bit of a sauce. Set aside onion mixture.
Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to pan. Brown the lamb on all sides. Remove lamb from pan. Clean excess fat out of pan. Return the onions, spice mixture and lamb to the dutch oven. Add the tomato paste (or tomatoes), salt and pepper and add water (or lamb stock) to the pot so that it is half the way up the lamb shoulder.
Bring to a boil on top of stove. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in a 250 degree oven and cook for 3 hours, turning the shoulder roast half way through. Alternately, cook in a slow cooker for 5 hours on low.
At the end of the three hours, remove the meat from the pot and pull the bones out of it. If the meat is not falling off the bones, return to the oven for another hour. (Save the bones for lamb stock. Store them in the freezer if you don’t have time to make the stock just yet.) With your hands, shred the meat which should be falling apart into chunks. Add the sliced rhubarb, the chunks of cooked meat, the golden raisins and the sugar back to the pot. Bring to a boil on the top of the stove and immediately return to the oven and cook another hour.
Remove from oven and taste for spices. Add more if you want a more intense flavor. If the flavor is too sour, add a touch more sugar. If the stew is too saucy, simmer with the lid off to reduce the stock.
This stew really does improve if it sits in the fridge for a couple of days. Serve over basmati rice, couscous, or rice pilaf garnished with the parsley and mint. A green salad would be nice with it.