Lamb Cheeks Braised in Saffron & White Wine

Category: Main Courses
Serving Size: 4

  • 2 pounds lamb cheeks, drained
  • 3/4 yellow onion, medium diced
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, medium dice
  • 1 carrot, medium dice
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped (3/8 oz)
  • 2 tablespoon lamb spice mix
  • 3/8 ounce olive oil
  • 3/8 ounce flour
  • 1/16 can roma tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1/8 quart white wine
  • 1/8 gallon chicken stock
  • 1 pinch saffron

Season the lamb cheeks with the spice mix. In a rondeau, heat the oil and sear both sides of the lamb cheeks. Remove all cheeks from the pan and add the onions, fennel and carrots. Sauté but do not brown. Add the garlic and sauté. Sprinkle with flour, cook for a minute then add the tomatoes. Next, deglaze with the white wine. Let the wine boil and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the chicken stock and saffron. Put cheeks into the rondeau and let it come to a boil. Place rondeau in a 325 degree oven, cover with a sheet pan and let braise for 1.5 – 2 hours. Cheeks are done when tender. When cheeks have finished cooking, remove them from the braising liquid and finish the sauce: skim all fat and impurities from the sauce. Check sauce for seasoning and thickness. If too thin then whisk in some blond roux and simmer on the stove top.


Spice Mixture

  • 2 tablespoon fennel seed, toasted
  • 2 tablespoon coriander, toasted
  • 2 tablespoon cumin seed toasted
  • 2 tbsp whole black peppercorn, toasted
  • 2 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1/2 cup ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon paprika

In the blender, pulse all spices together until a powder is formed.


Eggplant Spread

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 eggplant
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp harissa
  • 1 ounce extra virgin olive oil

On the grill, char the peppers on all sides and cook eggplant until fully soft. Cover and cool vegetables. Seed and peel both peppers and eggplant and place in the food processor. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil and puree. While the processor is running add the oil. Taste for seasoning and refrigerate.


Israeli Couscous

  • 1/4 medium yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Sauté onions in oil. Add raisins and lemon juice. Let boil for a minute. Add water, lemon zest, couscous and salt. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cover. Couscous will be cooked in 8 minutes. Pour out on a sheet pan and cool in refrigerator.


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4 lamb cheeks, fully braised
3 oz lamb cheeks braising sauce
1 ½ oz golden beets, diced and boiled in salted water
5 oz Israeli couscous, heated with a little water
1 slice French bread
1 tsp red pepper and eggplant spread
1 tbsp chickpeas (1 oz can drained)
Parsley chopped

Heat the lamb cheeks in the braising liquid with the diced and cooked beets. When heated, finish with a pinch of chopped parsley.

Make crostini’s ahead of time by brushing olive oil onto sliced French bread and baking in the oven until golden and crisp. Spread the rouille onto one crostini and bake for one minute,

Heat the couscous in a small skillet with a little water, and then pack into 1 portion cup.

Drop chickpeas into the fryer and cook until brown and crispy. Toss in a bowl with a little olive oil and salt.

In an entrée bowl, unmold the couscous, pour in cheeks and sauce around it, top with the crostini and sprinkle with the fried chickpeas.