Tunisian Lamb-and-Eggplant Stew with Farro, Parsley, & Harissa
- 3 lbs boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
- 1 TBS caraway seeds
- 1 TBS ground coriander
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smahed
- 3 chiles de arbol, cut into small pieces (easiest with scissors)
- 2 tsp parika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 6 TBS olive oil, divided
- 2 small onions, peeled and finely diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 4 cups beef or chicken stock
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 large Italian eggplant
- Farro with parsley and butter (recipe below)
- harissa paste, homemade or store bought, for serving
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, minced
- Sea salt and pepper
- Place the lamb in a bowl or a large ziploc bag with the cumin, caraway, smashed garlic, arbol chiles, paprika, cayenne, and 2 TBS of the olive oil. Season generously with sea salt. Use your hands to coat the lamb with the olive oil and spices, making sure to coat all the pieces. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, or zip up the plastic bag, and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to cook, take the lamb out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Add 2 TBS of olive oil to a large Dutch oven or wide pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the lamb (and its marinade) to the pot in a single layer (if the lamb does not fit in a single layer without crowding, do this in two batches). Sear the meat until it’s well browned and caramelized all over. Don’t rush it! You want the lamb to develop a nice, dark brown color. As the lamb is browned, use a slotted spoon to remove it to a plate.
- When all the lamb is browned, turn the heat down to medium and add the onion and bay leaves to the pot. Saute until onions are tender and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the lemon juice and cook 2-3 minutes, just to coat the onions. Add the beef stock and cinnamon to the pan and bring it to a boil.
- When the stock is boiling, turn off the heat. Add the browned lamb to the pot. Cover with aluminum foil and a tight fitting lid. Braise the lamb in the oven for 3 hours.
- About an hour before the lamb is done, cut the eggplant into 1 inch cubes. Toss them with a teaspoon of sea salt and place them in a colander over a plate or bowl. Let them soften and drain for about 20 minutes. Heat the remaining 2 TBS olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the cubed eggplant and cook, turning frequently, until it is seared on all sides and tender, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the excess olive oil.
- After 3 hours, check the meat for doneness – it should be falling apart and super tender. Taste the stew for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired. At this point, you have two options. The easy option is to add the fried eggplant and the minced parsley to the lamb as it is, then serve. The second option, if you want a more elegant presentation, is to ladle most of the lamb’s braising juices out of the pan, and pour them through a strainer into a second pot. Discard the vegetables and keep only the strained juices. Skim the fat from the juices, then reduce the juices over medium heat until thickened. Add the reduced juices back to the stew, along with the eggplant, then stir in the minced parsley. Serve.
- To serve, divide the farro between bowls and ladle the stew on top. Serve with harissa on the side.