Two years ago, we covered Christopher Kimball’s scandalous leave-taking from Cook’s Illustrated, the precursor to which he founded in 1980. If you want to relive the whole sordid mess, there’s a link to that story beneath today’s recipe. The announced reason that he then started Milk Street Kitchen and its eponymous magazine was this: He thought American home cooks spent too much time trying to create French cooking using recipes that were ‘poorly suited to the home kitchen’. Take that Julia Child! So after 40 years of cooking, he writes in his first Milk Street Cookbook (Little Brown and Co. 2017) “I’ve learned to leave that approach to the professionals.”
Apparently, he is an incredibly slow learner but that’s beside the point. The world, he tells us ‘thinks differently about cooking’. Not content to bash French home cooking, he includes all of Northern European cuisine which he claims is too reliant of heat and time to build flavor. No, his new endeavor will lean on the 88 spices of the Ottoman Empire and Herbs. Somehow Herbs had escaped his grasp until recently when everywhere he went he saw them being used in profusion. And he lost it when he was finally introduced to “Chiles, fermented sauces, flavored oils and condiments, ginger, turmeric, scallions, lemon grass.” Now I don’t mean to be rude, but where has he been?
The answer may be Vermont, which he used to write about in almost nostalgic terms in Cook’s Illustrated. At least to this New Yorker, he could have been describing 19th Century New England. Apparently, you can’t even get a decent bowl of Chop Suey anywhere north of the Massachusetts state line. Now I’m a simple home cook whose only been blogging since 2009 and my 8th recipe was for Malaysian Nasi Goreng made with, among other things, Kicap Manis, Chilies, Scallions and Shrimp Paste. But then I have access to www.kalustyans.com and Amazon Prime. I had no clue there was no internet access in Vermont. Nevertheless, I read on…
Kimball’s new-found freedom in the kitchen led to the purchase of za’atar, dukkah, ras el hanout, togarashi, garam masala and Baharat. Astonishingly, I have every one of his ‘discoveries’ in my pantry. So I have a leg up because I have his new ingredients on hand. However, I am fairly sure that you likely have access to everything required to make today’s recipe for No-Sear Lamb and Chickpea Stew. Paprika, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and cilantro are easy to find. Everything else are all standard supermarket offerings. Kimball goes on about the No-Sear business and in a salute to the editorial format of his former publication starts out like this: “The mess, time and trouble required to brown meat for a stew left us longing for a better way.” Really? Don’t get me wrong. This is a wonderfully seasoned flavorful stew and it’s well worth making. Just spare me the details of how I’ve been cooking wrong all these years. Besides, I didn’t choose the recipe for any other reason than this: I chose to make this dish simply because we’d bought Costco’s loin lamb chops and I’d botched the first batch by not cooking them long enough. So I was determined not to ruin the rest of what I had on hand. Let’s face it, it’s hard to ruin a stew.
The bones of this recipe are Yemini, Kimball writes. First a spice mixture is rubbed into the meat (Kimball used Boneless Lamb Shoulder) and also added to the pot along with onion, butter and tomato paste. A whole head of garlic is cooked along with the meat boosting the lush sweetness of the lamb. There’s no stock here at all, just water to which carrots, chickpeas, spinach are added. At the last moment, cilantro and lemon juice round out the whole delicious bowl. A dollop of yogurt and voilá! Here is the recipe.
Christopher Kimball's No-Sear Lamb and Chickpea Stew
A warming lamb stew with an exotic undertone of flavors. Ideal for a winter evening.
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 / pounds boneless lamb shoulder roast or loin lamb chops cut from the bone, trimmed of fat and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- 1 head garlic
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 cups water
- 1/2 pound carrots, halved and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
- 15 1/2 -ounces canned chickpeas, drained
- 3 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Whole milk yogurt to serve
- Step 1 In a bowl, stir together the paprika, cumin, cardamon, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Reserve half of the spice mixture, then toss the lamb or beef with the remaining spice mixture until well coated. Cut off and discard the top third of the garlic head, leaving the coves intact.
- Step 2 In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to brown around the edges, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Step 3 Add the tomato paste and the reserved spice mixture, then cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat, then add the lamb or beef and the garlic head, cut side down. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and reduce heat to low.
- Step 4 Simmer for 1 hour, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle bubble. Add the carrots and continue to simmer, partially covered, for another 30 minutes.
- Step 5 Using tongs, remove the garlic head and squeeze over the stew to release the cloves. Stir in the chickpeas and the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Step 6 Stir in the cilantro and lemon juice, then adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Top with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and sprinkle with chopped cilantro if desired.
For more on Christopher Kimball, Milk Street, Cook’s Illustrated and a great recipe for shrimp…read on…http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2017/10/diana-kennedys-shrimp-in-chipotle-sauce-or-camarones-enchipotlados-from-christopher-kimballs-milk-street.html