This Sweet and Sour Lamb is incredibly simple – just seven easy ingredients are required – and yet it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser. The meat, so soft that it falls off the bone, is enriched with sensational contrasts. The sweetness of sultanas and muscovado sugar strikes a high note against the acid of tomatoes and red wine. And the sprinkling of pinenuts adds irresistible texture to this perfectly balanced dish.
The General came home with pasture-raised Lamb, and I think I had a moment of shock. Several weeks before he’d chatted up a farmer who has his sheep up in the high-plains, and the time had come to collect. (The photo, taken last winter, is not of the same farm, though it could be. It’s typical of what you find in the Altopiano). The farmer told him to come up on Saturday morning. It’s a bit of a drive, so we made an outing of it, Roxy with her head out the window all the way.
We found the place, picturesque on a lonely peak. It was a grey morning, the wind made balloons of our clothes. There was a big horse tethered to the shed. But there was no farmer. Only the farmers wife. I waited outside with Roxy until The General returned. He was empty handed and grinning. ‘There is lamb,’ he said. ‘But it’s in the freezer, and it’s in two pieces.’ Having explained to the farmers wife that we couldn’t possibly take home a frozen lamb cut into only two pieces (without the head, albeit, as per our request), she suggested he return that evening when the farmer would be home, and they could cut the portions together.
So The General drove up there again, and he and the farmer got to work, sawing up the frozen lamb and tossing the pieces into a big polystyrene box. The farm is about 45 minutes from our house. By the time he arrived home, the lamb, as you can imagine, was starting to defrost. And as I said at the beginning, I sort of went into shock: ‘Good God, man, are you mad?’, I said – or something to the equivalent in Italian. I’ve worked in restaurants, I know a bit about safe food handling. Images of food poisoning as a result of having broken the freeze-and-defrost cycle were crowding my head. ‘Come on!,’ I said. ‘Hurry!’ We grabbed every plastic bag we could find and stuffed them with two or four meal-sized portions and raced them into the freezer, using oven paper when the bags ran out. Then we sort of collapsed. And laughed. And ate lamb chops for dinner.
Succulent Sweet and Sour Lamb
Needless to say, we lived to tell the tale. And the story gets better. The other day I took a random portion out of the freezer and made this fantastically Succulent Sweet and Sour Lamb. It is so good. The recipe is simple – just 7 ingredients on top of the usual salt, pepper and oil. And easy – once everything is in the pot there’s really nothing to to do. (Woops. In the photo below, looks like I forgot to include the tablespoon of muscovado sugar.)
I’ve adapted it from my go-to Kitchen Bible, ‘The Cook’s Companion‘ by Stephanie Alexander. Stephanie’s recipe calls for red wine vinegar. I’ve been avoiding sulfites for the last year, so we’ve had no vinegar in the pantry at all, not even balsamic. I found one of those little 200ml bricks of red table wine, and decided to use that as a substitute – they’re pretty close to vinegar, anyway, as far as I’m concerned. We don’t have a problem with using a little wine in cooking every now and again. And occasionally we’ll drink a glass. But yesterday, in fact, I bought red wine vinegar, because I think it will make this Sweet and Sour Lamb rock to a different tune. Not better, just different.
We have a cast-iron stock pot with a lid – in Australia it’s known as a Camp Oven. You place it in a deep hole in the ground, cover it with hot coals, and allow the stew to cook slowly and thoroughly for a long time. Not being in the Outback, we just pop it on the stove. I cooked the Lamb with the lid on. About 15 minutes before dinner time, I took the lid off, turned the heat up, and watched attentively as the cooking liquids reduced down to a thick and sumptuous sauce.
The meat was tender, the flavours perfectly balanced, and the quantity was perfect for two. 750 grams of lamb seems a lot, but, as you can see in the photos, ours had a lot of bone. I’m so looking forward to making it with the vinegar later on this week. Really, do yourself and your family a favour and make this. Share it round. And let us know how you go!
More One Pot Wonders
Slow Simmered Cabbage with Apples and Spice – gorgeous served on the side.
Double Dish Pork with Lemon and Sage – oh, this is wonderful! Fresh, fragrant, delightful.
Apple Chutney, Quick and Easy, Paleo and AIP – really easy, and perfect with any kind of protein.
This recipe has been shared on Real Food Friday and Allergy Free Thursday.
Thanks so much for your time here – don’t forget to sign up for the News and grab your Free Printables at the same time.
Big thanks for all your Shares on Social and for your Pins – every share helps spread the message about our Paleo Diet and Lifestyle.
And thanks for purchasing through the Affiliate Links here, whereby you, of course, never pay more, and the small commissions help keep the blog sustainable, and keeps the information freely circulating for all.
Best Wishes, Good Health and Happiness.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion sliced
- 750 g lamb on the bone
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup red wine, or red wine vinegar
- 1 medium tomato, cubed
- 1 tablespoon muscovado or coconut sugar
- 1 generous tablespoon pinenuts, toasted
- 1 generous tablespoon sultanas
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan and fry the onion until very soft. Remove the onion.
- Add the rest of the oil, and brown the lamb pieces on all sides.
- Add the onion, lamb, wine or vinegar, tomato, sugar and water to a heavy cast iron pot.
- Season with salt and pepper, bring to a simmer, and cover with the lid.
- Simmer with the lid on for 1 hour.
- Add the pinenuts and sultanas, and simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes or until all the liquids have reduced.
- Serve with your cooked vegetables of choice.
- Buon appetito! Enjoy!