Makes 4 to 6 servings
This is a lamb and pumpkin stew served on a bed of couscous. If you want to change it up a little bit, make the dish with Israeli couscous in the style of risotto. It will be creamy and delicious, if not exactly traditional.
- 8 oz dried chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 3 1/2 cups diced onions
- 1 1/2 lb lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon peeled and finely chopped ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 qt Chicken Broth, or as needed
- 6 cups water
- 1 onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 whole cloves
- 3 bunches baby turnips, cleaned and trimmed
- 2 cups oblique-cut carrots
- 2 cups peeled and trimmed diced pumpkin
- 2 1/2 cups cooked couscous
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Immediately discard any chickpeas that float to the surface. Soak the chickpeas overnight.
- The following day, in a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pot or enameled casserole, heat the olive oil and sweat the onions until they are soft and sweet, about 10 minutes. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Add the lamb to the pot and cook the meat to allow the juices to concentrate and caramelize, about 10 minutes.
- Add the ginger, turmeric, and saffron to the pot and toast briefly. Add enough broth to the pot to just cover the meat. Cover the pot and braise the lamb over medium heat, maintaining a simmer and cook until the meat is fork-tender, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Meanwhile, drain the chickpeas from their soaking water.
- Cut a slit in the onion wide enough and deep enough to securely hold the bay leaf. Place the bay leaf in the slit and stud the onion with the cloves to make an onion piqué.
- Fill a pot with the water, add the drained chickpeas and onion piqué, and bring to a simmer. Add additional water, as needed, to keep the liquid simmering. Cook the chickpeas until they are creamy on the inside, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove the onion piqué from the pot and drain the chickpeas, reserving the chickpea cooking liquid.
- Once the lamb is almost tender, add the turnips and carrots and continue cooking until they are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the pumpkin to the braise and return to a simmer, cover, and cook until the pumpkin is tender, about 15 minutes. By the time all the vegetables are tender, the lamb should be fork-tender.
- Add the cooked chickpeas to the lamb and vegetable mixture. Adjust the consistency of the braise by adding up to 1 1/2 cups of the reserved chickpea cooking liquid. The consistency should be that of a stew, not too watery but not too dry.
- Place about 1/2 cup of the couscous in the center of each of five plates. Using a ladle or a spoon, divide the lamb and vegetable stew between the plates and top each dish with the chopped cilantro.