Lamb with Green Garlic

Kodrero con Ajo Fresco

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Spring is the season for green garlic, fragrant shoots with tiny young bulbs. Before individual cloves are formed, the green garlic resembles large green onions or baby leeks. Combined with springtime’s young onions, they make a delicate and aromatic stew. The slow cooking results in the cloves becoming mild and creamy. This stew was a great favorite at Passover dinners at my restaurant, Square One. Serve with rice or noodles.

Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water or meat stock
  • ½ pound green garlic, or 2 heads mature garlic
  • 2 pounds green onions (5 or 6 bunches)
  • chopped fresh mint, dill, or flat-leaf parsley

Method

Spread the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Warm about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy sauté pan over high heat. Coat the lamb pieces in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess flour. Add to the hot oil, in batches, and brown well on all sides.

Transfer the lamb to a stew pot and add the tomato paste, vinegar, water or stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until the lamb is almost tender, 50 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the garlic and onions: Do not peel the green garlic. Instead, snip off the root end and slice into 2-inch lengths, using all of the green. If using heads of garlic, peel the cloves. Set aside. Trim the roots off the green onions and cut them into 2-inch lengths as well. Bring a saucepan filled with salted water to a boil. Add the green onions and green garlic and blanch for 2 minutes, then drain. Warm 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onions and sauté until they begin to take on color, about 5 minutes, seasoning them with salt and pepper as they cook. Remove from the heat.

After about 1 hour, when the lamb is almost cooked, add the sautéed garlic and green onions to the pot, re-cover, and continue to cook until the lamb is tender, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Spoon into a deep platter, sprinkle with the mint, dill, or parsley, and serve.