A Caucasian Armenian dish, pastiner is made from cubed lamb, tomatoes, and one other vegetable, and finished in the oven. The recipe with white beans is an Armenian equivalent of chili – one of these dishes in which a little meat and some beans will stretch a long way to satisfy a hungry crowd, or feed a family for a few days. It produces a cassoulet-like dish with very little effort and a fraction of the expense. Its taste only improves with time, so you can refrigerate or freeze it. Serve with rice or bulgur and a salad.
- 2 cups dried white beans (white kidney, Great Northern, or baby limas), soaked overnight in water to cover and drained
- Salt, to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds boneless lean lamb shoulder, cut into ½-inch dice
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 medium-size onions, chopped
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
- ¾ cup beef stock
- 1½ tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 can (14½ ounces) Italian plum tomatoes, drained but juices reserved, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
- 1 small green chili pepper, cored, seeded, and diced (wear rubber gloves)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika, plus additional for garnish
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus additional for garnish
- Hot cooked rice or bulgur
1. In a large pot, bring the beans and 6 cups water to a boil over high heat, periodically skimming off the foam as it rises to the top. Add salt, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot. Simmer until the beans are almost tender, about 40 minutes or more, depending on the beans.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large heatproof casserole over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and brown on all sides. Transfer the lamb to a plate and pour off the oil.
3. Add the butter to the casserole and melt over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened and lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Return the lamb to the casserole and add salt, ½ teaspoon hot paprika, and the stock. Simmer the lamb, covered, over low heat until tender, about 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
5. Drain off the liquid from the lamb and degrease, if it seems fatty. Dilute the tomato paste in the liquid and return the mixture to the lamb.
6. Add the beans, tomatoes and their liquid, the green bell pepper, chili pepper, garlic, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, remaining hot paprika to taste,1 tablespoon lemon juice, pepper, and more salt if needed. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and place in the oven for 40 minutes.
7. Remove from the heat, add more lemon juice, if desired, and stir in the 1/3 cup parsley. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
8. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish and sprinkle with sweet paprika and additional parsley. Serve over rice or bulgur.
Nutritional information is based on 8 servings and does not include rice or bulgur to serve over.