"We don't need it", he said, straining to keep his voice low. "But I want it!", I whined, knowing my poor husband to be helpless when I enter brat-o-rama mode. "Come on, it will be SOOO good. I promise you will love it," I pleaded. Being a diva when it comes to food, I always get my way. Granted, I had just received a beautiful delivery from our meat CSA, but this was lamb, and fresh at that. I stood at the counter, eyes fixed upon my desired prize. Reluctantly he sighed and said, "OK, whatever the baby wants." SWEET!!!!
We had made this impromptu stop at Marin Sun Farms on our way to picnic at Hog Island Oyster Company. (There was also a detour to Cowgirl Creamery where I went a little crazy with the raw goat's milk cheese. The entire Marshall/Point Reyes area is where foodies go to die.
What can I say, I was in rare form.)
Thankfully, I can say no to most things stereotypically female. Shoes, clothes, perfume, handbags....so NOT interested. In fact, I hate shopping. It's the bane of my existence. But a cookbook, rustic olive oil, smoked salt, or in this case, lamb...I need it and can't live without it! As a child, I remember going to the market with my mom and loving the bins of fresh fruit, unshelled walnuts, the snack aisle. Food shopping is still the most coveted time I share with her. It's about bonding over a mutual love and no one else is invited. NO ONE!
Back to the lamb. I'd bought a few dry farmed tomatoes the day before with an inkling to make Heidi Swanson's vegetarian mole.
I've actually made her dish a number of times with fantastic results. Yet once laying my eyes on the nicely cubed stew meat Marin Sun Farms had to offer, vegetarian was out the window. Gray purchased my little lamb (he wanted to buy it as a "present" for me...so long anniversary jewelry) and off we went to our picnic. The day ended with full bellies of oysters, goat cheese, and beer topped with a stunning sunset. As we lazily drove home that Sunday afternoon my mind wandered to the dinner that lay ahead.
"Thank you lamby", I thought. "Thank you for sacrificing your body so that I may nourish mine. I promise to make you proud." And I certainly did.
**(P.S. I promise to start taking pictures with a real camera soon. This iPhone doesn't cut it anymore!)
Lamb and Kabocha Squash Mole
1 pound lamb stew meat
1 1/2 cups kabocha squash (kabocha squash is a Japanese varietal that is sweet and quite starchy)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of coconut oil or ghee, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper (use more or less depending on your personal spice level)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 pounds dry farmed tomatoes, diced (you can also use 1 14 oz can of plum tomatoes)
2 teaspoons of paprika
4 tablespoons of almond meal/flour OR grind 1 oz of roasted almonds
1/3 cup organic dark chocolate chips, like Sunspire
1/4 cup of water
Sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash into 3/4 inch chunks and toss with 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Place in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until crisp but still firm.
While the squash is roasting, cook up the lamb. Heat a medium saute pan with a teaspoon of coconut oil. Toss in the cubed lamb with a pinch of salt and saute until each side is brown, about 8 minutes. The meat should feel springy to the touch, juicy and not overly firm.
Reduce the oven to 300 degrees. In a thick bottomed casserole pot, heat the remaining coconut oil and saute up the onion and cayenne pepper. Add in the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and paprika, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add in the lamb, squash, almond meal, chocolate, water, and a teaspoon of salt. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Cover the casserole dish and place in the oven for 1 1/4 hours.
Remove from the oven and serve with fresh bread or organic corn tortillas and a green salad.
**To get your in greens and make it a one pot meal, throw in sautéed kale when you add in the squash.