Monday, November 30, 2009

Curry Something, In My Case Left Over Lamb

I have been thinking about what to do about the two lamb shanks I had left over from Thanksgiving and it suddenly hit me a few minutes ago...curry. Duh! Lamb is nice curried but it also registered in my dim consciousness that the curry sauce works equally well with other things such as seafood, chicken, turkey and even vegetables. I know this might be a little late but some of you might have a some turkey left over(still) and this might be a different way for you to use it up. Dark meat turkey is very nice in something like this. This is my recipe for left over lamb but you just need to substitute whatever you have for the lamb. If you are going to use shrimp or seafood it is probably best to leave it raw but other things like chicken or turkey would be best cooked and preferably left over.

This recipe serves 4 and should be served over rice or couscous. This is a pretty quick dish and works great for feeding a crowd in a hurry. The rice takes longer to cook. This can be doubled or tripled or more. I wouldn't let shrimp sit on a buffet very long or it will turn to rubber but you can boil the shrimp on the side (use the frozen precooked popcorn size for real easy...just thaw it) and let folks add the shrimp as they serve themselves the curry sauce. Other things like lamb and chicken will idle on a buffet in a crockpot or steam tray for an hour with no discernible loss. You might have to add a little additional chicken or vege stock if the sauce starts to 'set up'.

1 pound cooked lamb, fat-trimmed
1 teaspoon olive, peanut or safflower oil
1 cup of chopped apple (1 medium apple)peeled or not your choice
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium onion should do it)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder ( I use Penzey's spices almost exclusively )
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 3/4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth ( I prefer the low sodium Swanson's)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Kosher salt to taste
ground cayenne pepper to taste

Optional toppings ( a choice of a few or all of these allows the diners to 'customize' the dish for themselves and adds a little fun)

ripe banana diced (should be a little firm)
plain nonfat yogurt
mango chutney
diced cucumber
diced bell pepper
chopped dried apricot
dried currants or raisins
salted peanuts or cashews
toasted shredded coconut

cut or shred the cooked lamb into bite size pieces.

In a 5 or 6 quart pan over medium heat, combine oil, onion, apple. Cook until onion begins to just brown and add the garlic and then cook for a couple of more minutes. The total cooking time should be about 8 minutes.

Add the curry powder and cumin and stir until spices are fragrant, about 30-45 more seconds.

Add the meat. Add 1 1/2 cups broth and bring to a simmer. Mix cornstarch and 1/4 cup broth. Stir this slurry into the pan and stir until it simmers again and it should almost instantly thicken from the corn starch. Add salt and cayenne to taste. Just a pinch of the cayenne will go a long way so it might be a good idea to 'sneak' up on it. Remove from heat and move into an appropriate serving bowl.

Put whatever condiments you've chosen into small bowls that can be passed.

You can either serve the rice or couscous in individual bowls and let everyone just add the curry and condiments at the table or serve it in a big bowl along with the bowl of curry and let each person serve themselves and add the condiments of choice. Of course, you can also do it buffet style.

As I said above the basic curry sauce can be used with any number of things besides lamb. Shrimp and chicken are especially suited for curry but so are things like zucchini or other squash, cauliflower and broccoli. I haven't tried it but I imagine firm tofu would work as well. Truth be told the sauce by itself over rice is not bad at all and is pretty cheap eats though a little light on protein. This very basic curry sauce is a good thing to have in your repertoire as you can use it to extend left overs very easily.

Note: for a change of pace you can substitute a cup or more of canned coconut milk for some of the stock and it will make a much richer dish.

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