I’ve stopped buying curry powders and pastes. I got tired of discovering 5-year-old half-used packages of curry paste at the back of my fridge. It’s pretty easy to make your own and (bonus for wimps like me) you can control the heat level.
This recipe is not exactly a Thai red curry but it contains many of the same ingredients. Don’t be afraid of the fish sauce. The stink fades as the stew cooks and you’re left with an incredible broth.
You’ll need about 3 hours of cooking time, but most of that time is hands off. The long cooking time is worth it to make the lamb shoulder tender.
For this recipe you’ll need:
- half an onion, finely diced
- 1-2 red chiles, seeded and finely diced (or substitute jalapenos)
- rind of one lemon, finely grated
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 10 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoon ground corinader
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
- 2 tablespoon ketchup
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or substitute soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce)
- juice of one lemon
- 2 pounds lamb shoulder
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 stick lemon grass (optional)
- 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
- Chili powder or chili sauce to taste
- 5 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 14 ounce can coconut milk (I prefer light coconut milk)
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan. Add the onions and chiles and cook over low heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon rind, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, pepper and ginger. Saute for 2-3 minutes until everything is warmed through. Add the ketchup, fish sauce and lemon juice and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Set aside. Note: You could cook the sauce in your dutch oven instead of in a separate saucepan. In that case you should scoop the sauce into a bowl and wipe out any excess (it burns easily) before browning the lamb.
Trim and discard any large pieces of fat or gristle from the lamb. Trim and save the bones. Cut the meat into 1″ cubes.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large dutch oven. Brown the meat and bones over medium heat until all surfaces are brown and crusty. Turn the heat to low and stir in the curry sauce. Heat for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the stock. If you have lemon grass, smash the stalk with the back of a knife and put it in the stew.
With the lid on, place the dutch oven in the oven and cook the stew for 1 hour.
Fish out the bones and the lemon grass. Add the potatoes and carrots. Cook for another hour.
Taste the stew and add chili powder or chili sauce if you prefer. Add salt if needed.
Remove the lid and return the dutch oven to the stovetop. Add the spinach. Simmer over medium heat until some of the liquid boils off and the sauce becomes thick (15-30 minutes).
Stir in the coconut milk and serve.