When I was a kid I basically needed to teach myself how to cook to save my burgeoning palate from what I innately knew was not good food. Generally the food my mom cooked did not appeal to me. Canned veggies, liver and onions, beef cooked well done and undercooked chicken were a weekly occurrence. Swanson’s TV Dinners notwithstanding. However, there were bright points in my tweens when my mom started cooking from a few new cookbooks and also took a Chinese cooking class. The folks also liked to entertain so the big addition was a book put out by Time Life Books called “Great Dinners from Life” which ended up adding so many tasty things to the menu that I still remember fondly. I have that cookbook now and was prompted to crack it open. One of the biggies was this Lamb Curry for the masses. My mom served it as a lunch for the ladies and the special part of it was not only did it taste good, but all the new and weird condiments that she served with it had me saying "WHAT". Okay at the time watermelon pickle was the weirdest, but just the same, I thought it was the most exotic thing my mother ever made. Decades later with a better understanding of Indian food I understand this is a very British interpretation of Curry, but as a child I was intrigued and delighted by the new tastes.
The recipe originally called for twelve pounds of boned lamb, which as you can imagine I needed to cut back for a recent Sunday dinner that only included two of us. I used three pounds so I had to cut the recipe back to a quarter of the original. I will say that that scale back needs to be tweaked (I used 2 lemons which was too much), but in essence was very close to my fond memories. The only thing I would say is that I truly needed it to be a “Ladies who Lunch” lunch because the more the merrier with this one.
Oh, on side note, when I went to Fred Meyer (Kroger) to buy the lamb, I grabbed a boneless leg, which I thought felt like it weighed about three pounds but didn’t have a tag so I took it to the counter and asked them to weight it and price it for me. Instead of doing that they went to the case and grabbed a loose tag and put it on my lamb. It said that it was a five pound roast. I took that roast and weighed it on one of the veggie scales and came up quite a bit short of that. I took it back to the meat counter and made a bit of a stink (over seven dollars a pound, you bet I did) and it came back as just a hair under three pound. The sheepish meat cutter said somebody must have switched the tag. Okay, that is somebody being an asshole, but was Kroger just trying to pass that loss on to me by just slapping the loose tag onto me. Urg.
Lamb Curry (Adapted from Time Life Books)
- ½ cup unsalted butter or ghee
- 3 pounds boneless lamb leg cut into ½ inch pieces
- 4 large yellow onions chopped
- 6 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 to 4 tablespoons curry powder to taste (I used Madras)
- 1 lemon scrubbed, thinly sliced and seeds removed
- 4 Granny Smith apples peeled, core removed and chopped
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Condiments (see notes)
- Cooked Rice to serve
- In a Dutch oven melt the butter or ghee over medium-high heat. Brown the lamb on all sides in batches. Remove from the pan and set aside. Leave the fat in the pan.
- Add the onions to the pan and sauté, stirring constantly until onions are soft and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Add curry powder and cook for another 5 minutes
- Return lamb to the pan and stir in lemon slices, apple, chicken broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until lamb is fork tender and onions and apples have reduced into the sauce. Check seasoning and adjust as needed.
- Serve with rice and condiments.
Condiments I used were:
Pickled Watermelon rind (which I loved)
Shredded Coconut (works)
Garlic Chili paste (added heat)
Major Grey’s Mango Chutney (great)
Pickled Lime (never again)
Candied Ginger (okay)
Also recommended by the book:
Sliced Green onion
Green bell pepper
Sour Cream or Yogurt
Bacon (why didn’t I)