Lamb and Plantain Curry

One of my first posts on this blog was jerk coconut chicken and that was a smashing success. My wife fried up some plantains as a side dish and they worked amazingly off each other. As she and I sat conceptualizing our weekly home menu, I mused that the coconut jerk would also work great with lamb. She suggested incorporating the plantain into the dish as well; it seemed like a good idea to me. I had made Thai curries with banana as a sweet thickener, so why not a Caribbean style lamb and plantain curry? We worked it into that week’s menu plan.

My wife and I figured out early on in the pandemic lockdown that spending time twice a day having the old conversation: what shall we make for…?

Yeah, that got tired fairly quick, so we decided once a week, we’d put our heads together and pound up a menu plan for the week. It saves time trying to decide what to make every day and it streamlines the grocery shopping. It’s what professional food operations do, so why not shrink the scale down and do it at home?

Anyway, back to the lamb and plantain curry…..

The Lamb options I have where I live are a range between great (I could get a whole lamb, head and all) and laughable (two frozen shanks for a confiscatory price at my local market’s freezer). I found a decent supermarket that will carry a netted boneless leg for a decent rate. It takes a bit of butchering to get it down to stew cube, but I see benefits in that.

Firstly, I love to butcher. Unapologetically, I find myself so centred and at peace with the universe when doing trim and boning work. I have long since given up asking myself why. Some paint, some do yoga, I butcher. It’s a funny old world….. The next reason is the trim from the lamb doesn’t go to waste. I roast it and use it for a quick stock that truly brings this dish together. It also yields enough for a surplus to keep for future dishes that would benefit handsomely from a bit of deep, rich lamb stock. As I have said in my other posts, and have hinted in my videos: save your trimmings. Nothing makes you feel like a pro, not to mention economically responsible, quite like making stock.

lamb & plantain curry

Lamb and Plantain Curry

A sweet and savoury Caribbean inspired stew
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Marinade Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean, Indian
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • Sauce pan, stock pot, strainer.

Ingredients
  

Lamb Marinade

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Lamb Stock Base

  • Lamb trimmings roasted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2-3 whole bay leaves
  • cold water or stock enough to cover the scraps

Stew Ingredients

    Part A

    • 2.5 lbs leg of lamb whole, boneless
    • 1 whole onion
    • 2 cloves garlic minced
    • 1 Tbsp ginger minced

    Part B

    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp coriander
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • 1 tsp ginger ground or fresh
    • 1/2 tsp cayenne or chili pepper
    • 1/4 tsp cloves
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 400ml tin coconut milk
    • 1.5 cups lamb stock made here from lamb leg and veg scraps
    • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds

    Part C

    • 1 stalk celery
    • 1 whole carrot
    • 1.5 cups cauliflower
    • 1 whole plantain peeled and diced
    • 1/4 cup cilantro chopped for garnish (optional)

    Instructions
     

    Trim and marinade lamb

    • Preheat oven to 350F
    • Trim and dice the lamb into 1/2" chunks, saving the fat and trimmings
    • place the diced lamb into a glass or metal dish
    • add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly
    • cover and refrigerate for 1-24 hours.

    Lamb Stock

    • Place the lamb scrap in an oven safe pan; roast for 20-30 minutes.
    • Peel the onion, carrot and trim the celery leaves and butt, place in stock pot with 1 tsp each of salt, pepper and bay leaf
    • Once the lamb is browned off, remove from the oven and pour the contents into the stock pot with the veg scraps; cover with cold water (or stock if you have any on hand).
    • Bring it to a boil, and then pull down to a simmer for minimum one hour.
    • Remove from the heat and strain. Set aside to use when constructing the rest of the dish.

    Now the fun begins….Part A:

    • Heat up a sauce pan, large enough to fit all the ingredients, to high heat
    • Once the pan is hot enough to sear the meat, pour in the lamb and any of the marinade it hasn't absorbed; stir it as you do.
    • Once the lamb is seared, add the rest of Part A (onions, garlic and ginger)
    • The lamb, onion and garlic/ginger will release liquid; cook off most of the liquid, stirring as you do. The onions will absorb much of that essence as it cooks.

    Looking good… Now: Part B

    • Add the dry ingerdients of Part B and stir in while there is still a bit of lamb liquid in the pan
    • Add the coconut milk and 1 cup of the lamb stock; stir in thoroughly.

    Alright, alright…. Part C

    • Once the coconut milk and stock have come up to a gentle boil, add all of Part C and the last 1/2 cup of lamb stock, pull the heat down to medium and, stirring every couple minutes, let it ride for 10-15 minutes.

    Aaaaand you're there.

    • Remove from the heat and serve either by itself or over rice; garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy.

    Video

    Notes

    You could get lamb pre-trimmed and cut. It’d save you a bit of time, but then you’d need to find a replacement for the lamb stock in the recipe. No big problem; the stock section in the recipe can be done using just the veg trim. That or a store-bought stock….But you’re better than that.
    As well in the stock, if you have it and are feeling a bit fancy, you can add the following to the lamb trim before roasting it:
    1 Tbsp cinnamon bark
    ½ a star anise seed
    4 whole cloves
    8 cardamom pods
    ½ tsp caraway seeds
    As it roasts in with the lamb fat, it lends a sweet, hearty tang to the stock that compliments curry really well. 
    You likely have noticed that if you made the stock by the recipe, you’re left with a considerable surplus of lamb stock. Freeze it and use it next time you’re making a soup or stew that uses red meat. You’re welcome.
    The dry ingredients I listed in Part B are your basic curry components. If you want, feel free to use any commercial curry powder you want. I have a really good one in my pantry, but it’s a bit too spicy for everyone in my family, so I knocked up a scratch batch.
    The vegetables I put in the recipe are based mostly on what I keep in my home fridge on any given day. Whatever vegetables you want to add or subtract here is up to you, but remember: whatever you choose to add needs to play well with the sweetness of plantain.
    A word on plantain, use ripe, yellow with black spots on it: if you’ve never worked with it before, it’s quite starchy and will thicken up this curry fabulously (making it a good stand-alone to serve without rice) while imparting a smooth sub-palate sweetness. If plantains are unavailable where you are, banana can be a good substitute.
    Keyword coconut, curry, gluten free, lamb, plantain

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