meat on bone--how to modify recipe?
I am making a favorite red curry recipe tonight (from Madhur Jaffrey) and it calls for lamb stew meat. Instead I will use lamb spare ribs because that's the last part of the Full Belly Farm lamb that I bought some months ago left in my freezer. How would you modify the recipe? It's over 4 pounds of ribs, and the recipe calls for 2 pounds of stew meat, but I assume at least half of what I will be using is bone. Probably it will take longer to braise. I can test that as I go. What I am more concerned about is the other ingredients. Would you use the same amount of the other ingredients (onions, garlic, ginger, spices, yogurt) as for 2 pounds of boneless stew meat? Or would you double it so it covers the meat better? What about water? I learned the hard way not to double the water when I double the recipe (i.e. when I use four pounds of stew meat)--it just turns out too runny. Should I double everything but the water? But maybe I need more water because of the presumably longer cooking time? Thoughts?
The ratio of meat (or other chunky items) to sauce is a curry is not fixed. I suspect the sauce depends on the onions for thickening. The longer cooking might actually be an improvement, giving the onions more time to break down.
If you cook this in a well sealed pot (dutch oven), especially in the oven, you don't have to cover the meat with liquid. The hot air and steam in the pot will cook the meat that isn't immersed.
You didn't say how much liquid the recipe calls for, but my suggestion is to start with the recipe as it is. Then keep on eye on it as it cooks; adding liquid if it gets too dry.
Thanks so much, Paul. I am using a le creuset dutch oven in the oven, so the steam should be pretty effective. It calls for 1 and a 1/4 cups water for lamb (2 cups for beef, which takes longer to cook).
In case anyone wants the recipe, with all credit to Madhur Jaffrey, here it is. Every time I make it I get rave reviews and everyone asks for the recipe.
Red Lamb or Beef Stew
from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking
• Two 1-inch cubes of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 8 cloves garlic, peeled
• 1 1/2 to 2 cups water
• 10 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 pounds boned meat from lamb shoulder or leg, or stewing beef (chuck), cut into one-inch cubes
• 10 whole cardamom pods**
• 2 bay leaves
• 6 whole cloves
• 10 whole peppercorns
• A 1-inch stick of cinnamon
• 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
• 4 teaspoons bright red paprika mixed with 1/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne
• 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
• 6 tablespoons plain yogurt
• 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
• freshly ground pepper
(Preheat oven to 350 degrees if you are choosing the oven method below—which I recommend.)
1. Put the ginger, garlic, and 4 tablespoons of the water into a blender and blend into a smooth paste.
2. Heat the oil in a wide, heavy pot over a medium-high flame. Brown meat cubes in batches and set aside. Put the cardamom pods, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon in the same oil. Stir once and wait until the cloves swell and the bay leaves begin to take on color. This just takes a few seconds. Now put in the onions. Stir and fry for about five minutes or until the onions take on a medium brown color. Put in the ginger-garlic paste and stir for about 30 seconds. Then add the coriander, cumin, paprika-cayenne, and salt. Stir and fry for 30 seconds more. Add the browned meat cubes and accumulated juices. Stir for 30 seconds. Now put in 1 tablespoon of the yogurt. Stir and fry for about 30 seconds, or until the yogurt is well incorporated. Add the remaining yogurt, a tablespoon at a time, in the same way. Stir and fry for another 3-4 minutes.
3. Now add 1 1/4 cups water if you are cooking lamb, and 2 cups if you are cooking beef. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, scraping in all browned spices from the sides and bottom of the pot. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for about an hour if you are cooking lamb, or two hours if you are cooking beef, or until meat is tender. Every ten minutes or so, give the meat a good stir. (Alternatively, the meat can be baked, covered, in a preheated 350-degree oven for the same length of time. I prefer the oven method because you don’t need to stir—it doesn’t stick.) When the meat is tender, take off the lid, turn the heat up to medium, and boil away some of the liquid. The fat that collects in the pot may be spooned off the top. Sprinkle the garam masala and black pepper over the meat before you serve, and mix them in.
*Note: If you double or triple the recipe do not double or triple the amounts of oil or water.
** Alix’s patented trick: use a needle and thread to string the pods together. This makes it easy to remove them before serving, preventing any unpleasant surprises.
While this recipe calls for boned lamb, much of the lamb and goat that is sold in Indian groceries is sold with bones, often in the form of cubes that have been cut while frozen. It is stewed, bone and all.
It might be awkward to stir the ribs and spices while adding the yogurt. I'd leave the meat out of the pan during this phase.
I've seen a number of Indian recipes that cook the meat till nearly all the liquid evaporates and the fat separates, then add water, and repeat (several times). On the other hand, dishes like this are often cooked in a pressure cooker, where evaporating all the water is not an option.