LEBANESE SPICED LAMB AND ORZO BAKE The intoxicating smells of sweet and savory spices will fill your house as this gorgeous stew bubbles away in the oven. The lamb is meltingly tender and the orzo is lovingly bathed in an out-of-this-world aromatic sauce. This is comfort food at its best.
- 2.25 lb. trimmed lamb shoulder, cut into 1-in. cubes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. za’atar*
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 1 tbsp. Lebanese 7-spice mix**
- 14.5 oz. can chopped tomatoes, preferably with garlic and olive oil
- 5 cups low-sodium chicken stock, more as needed
- 2 tsp. purchased or homemade date syrup
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lb. orzo
- 2.5 oz. feta, crumbled, for garnish
- Handful of fresh oregano, roughly chopped, for garnish
HOW TO MAKE IT
- Heat the oven to 350°.
- Season the lamb all over with salt and pepper.
- Place a wide shallow braising pan with a lid (the Staub braiser is ideal) over medium-high heat and add about 2 tbsp. oil. When the pan is hot, add the lamb in batches and sear until browned all over. Set aside to a plate. Lower the heat to medium and add the onion, za’atar, cinnamon sticks, 7-spice mix, and remaining oil and sauté gently for a few minutes until the onions have softened.
- Add the lamb back to the pan and cover with the tomatoes, stock, and date syrup. Season with more salt and pepper and add in the bay leaves. Cover with a lid and bake in the oven for 1.5 hours, until the lamb is very tender.
- Remove the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves, add the orzo, and stir well. Cover and return the pan to the oven to continue to cook for a further 25 minutes, checking once halfway through cooking time to make sure there is enough liquid in the pan.
- Adjust the seasonings to taste, sprinkle the feta and oregano over top, and serve.