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Dried fruit sweetens Moroccan-style lamb (or goat!)

I knew my editor wouldn’t exactly be gung-ho on goat.

But that didn’t keep my most recent food section column from detailing the purchase of a whole goat raised by a local teenager, as well as some of my first forays with the meat. Specifically, I transformed the heart and tongue, using an Instant Pot, into delicious tacos. The liver quickly and easily was pureed in my food processor into paté.

Anything and everything I’ve done with lamb — also purchased over the years from members of 4-H and Future Farmers of America — I can do with goat, I reasoned. And that theory has been kid-tested and approved since my 5- and 7-year-old sons gave their first taste of goat the thumbs-up this week.

I’ve learned over years of preparing family meals that I prefer larger portions of meat already broken down for recipes like this one. That’s why when delivering cutting instructions to the local butcher who’s handled lambs — and now goat — for me, I request the shoulders ground and one of the legs boned and cut into meat for kebabs.

I’ll be sure to use some of the kebab cuts in this recipe that likely would be made with either lamb or goat in North Africa. Don’t let the lack of those meats keep you from preparing it even with beef.

Like many Moroccan dishes, this one has a slightly sweet note from the dried fruit and herbs, which I know my kids would love. It also would benefit from just a hint of orange blossom water, highlighted in this blog’s previous post, to finish the sauce. Or consider steaming couscous with a splash of the floral essence for a side dish that really shines.

Moroccan Lamb (or Goat!) With Apricots, Almonds and Mint

1 pound lean lamb, cubed

Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

3 cups chicken stock

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon honey

6 ounces dried apricots

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, divided

1 ounce ground almonds or almond butter

1 ounce sliced almonds, toasted, for garnish

Steamed broccoli and couscous, for serving

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add lamb and cook over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes until evenly browned, stirring often. Transfer lamb to a plate using a slotted spoon.

Stir the onion and garlic into pot and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Return lamb to pot. Add the stock, zest and juice, cinnamon and honey, and season with more salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour.

Add the apricots and 2 tablespoons of the mint and cook for 30 minutes until lamb is tender. Stir in the ground almonds or almond butter to thicken sauce. Scatter remaining 1 tablespoon mint and the toasted sliced almonds on top of lamb and serve with couscous and broccoli.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from bbcgoodfood.com

Tribune News Service photo