Katniss' favorite Lamb and Prune Stew
This Lamb and Prune Stew actually shows up in all three of The Hunger Games novels. When Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games, the Capitol provides her with all the rich, delicious food she could want (until she gets into the arena). Katniss, who has lived all of her life hungry and struggling to fill her and her families belly, is a voracious eater. Her favorite dish she receives during training is a hearty lamb and dried plum stew. She even gets this stew in the arena from one of her sponsors. I recreated it by doctoring a lamb and prune tagine recipe from the amazing middle eastern food expert Claudio Roden which is in one of my favorite cookbooks, Arabesque. I added some ingredients to make it more stew-like, adding some beefstock and sweet potatoes. This stew takes a lot of time but it is worth it - the flavor is out of this world.
2 lbs lamb stew meat (from shoulder would be good)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 and 1/2 cups prunes
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef stock
2 sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into chunks
1/3 cup red wine
2 tablespoons port (optional)
1/2 cup blanched almonds (for garnish)
- Heat the oil in a dutch oven. Add the lamb, onions, garlic, ginger, saffron and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Cover with 1 cup of beef stock and and water.
- Simmer gently over low heat for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is tender. Add water to keep the meat covered if it gets dry.
- Add the prunes, sweet potatoes, the remaining cinnamon and the wine.
- Simmer for another 30 minutes. Towards the end of this time, add the port. [Note: if you find the stew broth is too thin, add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water towards the end of the 30 minutes to thicken the stew up].
- When the stew is almost ready, heat some oil in a small saute pan over medium heat and fry almonds until lightly browned.
- When serving the stew, sprinkle with the fried almonds and serve with some hearty bread to sop up the broth!