This casserole uses shoulder of lamb, which is well marbled with fat and has a very good flavor. If you like, prepare the dish a day ahead, cool, then chill in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, remove all the fat that has solidified on the surface, then reheat the casserole until bubbling before serving.
(Saffron recipe below)
2tbsp. sunflower oil
1 lg. onion, peeled and finely chopped
1-1/2 - 2lb. boneless shoulder of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2 cubes.
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
salt and pepper
16 oz. boxed or canned crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup. dried apricots, halved
3 inch. piece of cinnamon stick, broken crosswise in half
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
Heat the oil in a medium pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until golden, stirring occasionally.
Add the cubes of lamb to the pot, then sprinkle in the spices, flour, and salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring and turning the lamb, for 5 minutes, or until the meat has lost its redness.
Pour the tomatoes into a measuring cup and add enough cold water to make 2-1/2 cups. Pour onto the lamb, stirring. Add the apricots and cinnamon;heat until a few bubbles appear. Cover and cook over low heat for 45 minutes.
Check from time to time to make sure the liquid is simmering very gently, with just the occasionally bubble.
Uncover the pot and cook for 15 minutes longer, or until the meat is tender enough to cut with the side of a fork.
The cooking liquid should be thick enough to just coat the meat. Check the seasoning.
Spoon the stew onto a bed of saffron rice, removing the pieces of cinnamon as you come across them. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds just before serving.
4 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup. arborio rice
3 1/2 hot chicken broth
a large pinch of saffron threads
salt and pepper
1/2 cup. grated Parmesan cheese
Melt half the butter in a medium pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until softened.
Add the the rice and stir to coat with butter. Add a ladle full of stock.
Stir until absorbed. Add the saffron, salt and pepper, then ladleful of stock.
Stir until absorbed. If necessary, reduce the heat so stock is just bubbling.
Add the remaining stock a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly,
then cook until the rice is creamy and al dente. It should take 20-25 minutes.
Stir in the remaining butter and Parmesan. Check the seasoning.