Passover is the time where you can find better deals on lamb here in Israel. Lamb is very expensive here, but for me Passover just isn’t Passover without at least one lamb dish. I found a good deal on lamb neck at a local supermarket and had the butcher cut it into slices. The neck is one of the fattier parts of the lamb, but it is a cheaper cut and perfect for slow cooking. Get the butcher to trim as much fat off as he can. Luckily, the neck I picked out had already been trimmed.
I found an interesting recipe using the Algerian spice palate: cinnamon, chili flakes, cardamom, ginger, clove, fennel, caraway and curry. I am not sure curry is part of the Algerian spice palate, but the dish was fragrant, slightly spicy, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Traditionally, this is served over couscous, but for Passover I served it over rice. It would also be good over polenta in the fall or winter.
Here are a couple of other recipes for lamb neck:
Adapted recipe from Williams-Sonoma
8 slices of lamb neck
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
500g (1 lb.) yellow onions, diced
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
4 cardamom pods, skins removed
Pinch of saffron
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 (800g or 28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 bottle dry white wine
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 lb. carrots, peeled and coarsely diced
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and coarsely diced
Preheat an oven to 180C (350°F).
Generously season the lamb neck with pepper. In an ovenproof deep sauté pan or Dutch oven over high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until nearly smoking. Working in batches, browning the neck slices, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.
Add the remaining olive oil, onions and garlic to the pan and sauté, stirring, until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the ginger, cardamom, saffron, chili flakes, cloves, caraway, fennel seeds, cinnamon, curry, salt, almonds and raisins. Sauté, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, wine, orange zest and orange juice, and stir to mix well. Add the lamb neck and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer the pan to the oven and about 2-3 hours or until the lamb neck is almost falling off the bone.
Add the carrots and fennel bulb after the stew has cooked for an hour. Serve over rice (for Passover), couscous or polenta.