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Seared American Lamb in Swarthy Pasilla-Honey Sauce

Seared American Lamb in Swarthy Pasilla-Honey Sauce

From: Chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill, Chicago. Yield: 12 servings.

3-6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3-41⁄2 lb. Boneless American Lamb for stew (preferably cut from shoulder), well-trimmed, cut into 1”cubes
41⁄2 cups beef broth (or other meat broth)
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1” cubes
3⁄4 to 1 cup honey
2 tsp. salt
for garnish, white onion rings
for garnish, cilantro sprigs
* * *
Essential Bold Pasilla Seasoning Paste (21⁄4 cups):
24 garlic cloves, unpeeled
24 dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded (about 6 oz. total)
2 Tbsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican
3⁄4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1⁄2 tsp. cumin, preferably fresh ground
* * *

For seasoning paste: Roast unpeeled garlic on ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally until soft (they will blacken in spots), about 15 minutes; cool and peel. While garlic is roasting, toast chiles on another side of griddle or skillet 1 or 2 at a time. Open and flatten them out and press down firmly on hot surface with spatula; in a few seconds when they crackle, flip them and press down to toast the other side. In small bowl, cover chiles with hot water and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking. Drain, reserving 1⁄4 cup of soaking water.

In food processor blender, combine chiles, 1⁄4 cup soaking liquid, garlic, oregano, pepper and cumin. Blend to smooth puree, scraping down and stirring frequently. If necessary, add water a little at a time to get mixture moving through blender blades. Press through medium-mesh strainer into small bowl; set aside.

For lamb: In large (10”-12”) heavy skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. In uncrowded single layer, brown lamb on all sides. Do in batches if necessary. Return all lamb to pan and stir in chile seasoning. Cook, stirring and scraping, and turning regularly, until chile mixture is very thick, about 3 minutes. Stir in broth, partially cover with lid, and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Add sweet potato and stir to coat with sauce; continue simmering until lamb and potato are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in enough honey to give sauce a slightly sweet edge, then season with salt. Simmer 5 more minutes to blend flavors. Ladle onto warm, deep platter; decorate with onion rings and sprigs of cilantro.