I know this sounds unbelievable, but every Passover, total strangers call me at home for advice on cooking brisket. I feel as if I am running a clinic. It is spring, I tell them. Maybe it is time to give this Ashkenazi winter staple a vacation and turn to more seasonal fare, like spring lamb. While the seders are past, it’s not too late to try your hand at lamb.
Spring is when green garlic appears at the market. These fragrant green shoots with tiny young bulbs resemble large green onions or baby leeks, and combined with green onions, they make for a delicate and aromatic stew. If you cannot find green garlic at your market, you can use garlic cloves in its place. With slow cooking, the cloves will become mild and creamy.
I recommend braising the Sephardo-Turkish Lamb Stew in the oven for even cooking and to eliminate worries about scorching, but if oven space is tight, the stove top will do. You can prepare this ahead of time as it reheats beautifully. If favas are available, add a few for color. Serve with roasted little potatoes.
Find additional Passover recipes online for Lamb and Artichokes with Egg and Lemon, and Msoki-Tunisian Passover Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables.
Sephardo-Turkish Lamb Stew with Green Garlic
Serves 6 to 8
Olive oil for browning and sautéing
3 to 4 lbs. boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup meat broth or water, or as needed
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Maras or Aleppo pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 lb. green garlic stalks, or 2 small heads garlic
2 lbs. green onions (about 6 large bunches)
2 lbs. fresh fava beans, shelled, blanched and peeled (optional)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)
Chopped fresh mint or flat-leaf parsley for garnish
If oven braising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a large, heavy sauté pan with oil and warm over high heat. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. In batches, add the lamb and brown well on all sides. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a stew pot.
Pour off the excess fat from the sauté pan, add a little of the broth and deglaze the pan over high heat, stirring to dislodge any brown bits from the pan bottom. Add the pan juices to the stew pot. Combine the tomato paste and vinegar with the remaining broth, stir well, and add to the lamb. The liquid should just cover the lamb; add more if needed. Add the Maras pepper and a sprinkle of salt and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer on the stove top until the lamb is almost tender, about 1 hour. Alternatively, bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the green garlic (or garlic) and the green onions. Cut off the root end of the green garlic stalks and slice the stalks into 2-inch lengths, using all of the greens. (Or, separate the cloves of the garlic heads and peel the cloves.) Cut off the roots of the green onions, then cut the green onions, including the green tops, into 2-inch lengths. Bring a saucepan filled with salted water to a boil, add the green garlic (or garlic cloves) and green onions, blanch for 2 minutes, drain well, and pat dry.
Warm a few Tbs. oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the green garlic and green onions and sauté them until they take on a bit of color, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.
After the lamb has been cooking for 1 hour, add the green garlic (or blanched garlic cloves) and green onions, re-cover and continue to simmer until the lamb is tender, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Add the favas during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the lemon juice to brighten the flavors, then spoon into a deep platter. Garnish with mint and serve.