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Lamb Stew with Peanut Sauce

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

There is a little-known cookbook that I love, titled The Supermarket Epicure, by Joanna Preuss (William Morrow, 1988). I first read some of Joanna’s recipes in a newspaper clipping from New Jersey sent by my aunt. Her recipes struck me as fresh and exciting. She has stayed sort of in the background of the food world, teaching cooking locally on the East Coast and building a following. I was delighted to find a copy of her book at my secondhand bookstore. Even though they were written 20 years ago, the recipes are as interesting and delicious as anything created today. Here is her lamb stew with a simple, not too heavy peanut sauce, adapted for the slow cooker. As my slow cooker foodie friend Lynn Alley says, “People love anything with peanut sauce on it, it’s so good!” Serve this over brown jasmine rice.

Serves2

Cooking MethodSlow Cooking

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Gluten-free, Halal, Kosher, Tree Nut Free

EquipmentCrock Pot

MealDinner

Taste and TextureCreamy, Meaty, Spiced

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black or white pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the lamb, in batches if necessary, and brown quickly on all sides, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the slow cooker.

  2. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for 1 minute, then add the peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, molasses, and cayenne pepper, scraping up the brown bits and stirring with a whisk. Add the water to the pan, stir, and pour the mixture over the lamb in the crock. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.

  3. At the end of the cooking time, stir in the peanuts and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Notes:

Cooker: 1½ to 3 quart

Setting and cook time: Low for 6 to 8 hoursSlow Cooker Tip: Make-Ahead Meals

Using your freezer in conjunction with slow cooker cooking is a practical option. There is a whole school of thought that believes that if you make one meal, you should make enough at the same time to freeze a second meal. Make-ahead main dishes are not a new concept. With available freezer space, you can easily cook double the amount of a favorite dish and package the extras for a future meal. You will notice that many of the yields say “serves 2 with leftovers.” The recipes herein, especially the soups, chilies, and braises, are often designed for a second meal.

Stews and meat braises are easy to freeze and retain their just-cooked qualities. Pasta sauces and lasagna are very popular. To save time, make pasta sauces ahead and freeze them in appropriate portions. Then all you have to do is cook the pasta and reheat the sauce. For stews and casseroles, plan to reheat them in the oven or microwave rather than the slow cooker, since the food will not heat up as fast as it should in the cooker. The only foods that are really bad for freezing are raw potatoes, cooked soft vegetables like summer squash, cream sauces, and hard-cooked eggs or fish. I also avoid freezing veal, since it is so lean, and risotto (plain steamed rice can be frozen nicely, though) and polenta. I don’t freeze cooked poultry on the bone. I shred meats like chicken, turkey, and large cuts of meat in sauce so they are ready to serve when defrosted and take up less freezer space.

For freezer storage, collect plastic freezer containers in various sizes, to accommodate different amounts of food. You may also use heavy-duty zipper-top plastic freezer bags for food storage.

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