International Lamb of Mystery Stew

“Get in my belly” – Fat Bastard

(From the movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery)


Suddenly, the weather in New Mexico has become cold. Snow is beginning to fall on the mountains – ski season is upon us. The air is crisp, cool and dry. All I can think about is warm, comforting food. You know the type – soup and stews – simple fare to warm the body and soul. Nothing fancy, no frills – just hot bowls of pure food love that whisper sweet nothings to my stomach.


It’s Friday. The hubby, Abba Goose is off from work this weekend – no hospital, just home. A rare treat. So, we will have a Friday night (Shabbat) dinner together. Our daughter, Snu Magoo, will wait up until Abba Goose gets home. It will be sometime after eight; it’s an early night for him. She wants a hug from her Goose, and what she also craves is a slice – or five – of her Ima’s poppyseed challah. “With a lot of butter… More butter, please!” says the Snoo Magoo.


The Snoo Magoo will go to join her brother, Littlest Guy, in bed. Abba Goose will go to feed the chickens. We have six – the older ones are called the “Mean Ladies” (they bite) and the younger ones the “New Ladies” (they, fortunately, are a lot friendlier). When the Ladies are fed, Goose and Ima will enjoy a hot bowl of stew, along with ridiculously large bowls of colorful salad. The mix of spinach, apples, beets, candied nuts, balsamic vinaigrette and creamy, pungent Cypress Grove Midnight Moon cheese is a meal in itself. But, it’s Friday night and we shall eat.

DSC_1206 DSC_1205

The Snoo Magoo and Littlest Guy will love the stew for lunch on Saturday, especially because it has mushrooms. Snoo Magoo calls mushrooms “chocolate of the forest.” And we know how Littlest Guy feels about chocolate.

This recipe draws influences from the world over: Persian spices and a Khoresh- style preparation; cabbage, sweet potatoes and lamb echoing ingredients in an Irish stew and green chiles to remind us that we (in fact) in New Mexico.

This is International Lamb of Mystery Stew – I am not one to pass up an opportunity for a movie reference. The recipe’s name is an ode to Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, a favorite flick of Abba Goose.


Though a long finishing simmer is required to produce succulent, tender lamb and well-developed flavor, the recipe comes together in a flash:


First, sauté the onions and mushrooms; then, stir in the garlic.


Next, sauté the purple cabbage and season the dish with salt and pepper.


Begin to brown the lamb and season the pot with salt and pepper – again.


When the lamb is browned, add the sweet potatoes…

DSC_1186and the spices.


Give the pot a big stir…


…. and pour in the chicken broth and stir again.


Now, add the tomatoes and stir (a lot of stirring in this recipe!).


Throw in the bright, green beans.


Another stir…


Then add the green chiles, stir, cover and allow to simmer for a few hours. Finally, taste and re-season with salt and pepper according to your preference.

Finally, eat! The bright orange sweet potatoes remind me of Autumn’s leaves and the deep, green colored beans of the season’s lush grass. Enjoy this stew on a crisp Fall night with a nice glass of deep, burgundy colored Malbec or Carménère wine.


Click here to Print Recipe

International Lamb of Mystery Stew

“Throw me a frickin’ bone here!” – Dr. Evil (How about a lamb bone?)


1 red onion, sliced

1 cup sliced baby portabella mushrooms

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 small head of purple cabbage or radicchio, halved and thinly sliced

1 lb. lean lamb stew meat, cubed

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

salt and pepper, to taste

1 tsp. each: dried thyme, coriander, fennel, turmeric, cumin, 7 spice blend (Baharaat), saffron strands, smoked paprika and ginger

1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved

3 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 – 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, including juice

1/4 cup green chiles (or chili of your choice) seeded, septum removed and chopped

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish


1.) Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the onion and mushrooms until the mushrooms are golden the onion translucent. Add the garlic and sauté the mixture one minute more, just until fragrant. Stir in the purple cabbage and sauté a few minutes until it is tender-crisp. Season with salt and pepper.

 2.) Add the lamb stew meat to the pot and sauté the lamb just until it is browned. Season again with salt and pepper, according to taste preference. The chicken stock and tomatoes in the recipe will have add a bit of salt. Next, add the sweet potato and the spices; stir to combine.

3.) Add the green beans, tomatoes, chicken stock and chiles. Reduce heat to low and cover. Allow the stew to gently simmer for two hours, or up to four hours, stirring occasionally. When ready to serve, taste and re-season with additional salt and pepper. Garnish bowls of stew with fresh parsley. Enjoy!


©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.


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12 thoughts on “International Lamb of Mystery Stew

  1. “Nothing fancy, no frills – just hot bowls of pure food love that whisper sweet nothings to my stomach.” LOVE THAT LINE!

    I’m with Snno Magoo. “More butter please.”

  2. Oh, yes, “More butter please!” That bread looks soo good. Your recipe for lamb stew sounds incredible, Shanna. Love that you include cabbage and sweet potatoes, I wish I had bought that package of lamb on Friday morning instead of putting back into the display. Guess what I’ll be buying the next time I’m in that store? I want to try this stew. 🙂

    1. Thank you for all the compliments and for stopping by. I appreciate the “visit”! I love root vegetables this time of year – hence the sweet potatoes – and any squash would be delicious in it’s place, as well. If you don’t have red cabbage on hand, you could even use a leafy green, like kale. As for the lamb, sadly, I must admit their is no substitute for it’s rich, distinct flavor… I love lamb! I often put something back at the market and later wish I had purchased it – hopefully your grocer is as close to your home as ours is. I hope that you try the stew and enjoy it!

      As always, “More. Butter. Please.” – Snoo Magoo

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