RAVIN PATEL comes from a family that simply loves lamb. For tenderness, he prefers to braise lamb rather than roast it. “I apply the flavors we love but cook it the way I would at the restaurants to yield the tenderest meat and allow flavors to develop through layers,” says Patel, who once worked at Ella and now oversees culinary operations for Davis’ Seasons and the Hilton Garden Inn. He’s also executive chef for the new downtown Hyatt Centric, set to open in late spring 2021.
½ cup canola or other neutral cooking oil, divided
2 large onions, sliced
4 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground red chili
2 teaspoons paprika
1 whole boneless lamb shoulder, 6–8 pounds (you can substitute boneless lamb leg)
1 cup red wine
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup mint leaves for garnish
Heat ¼ cup oil in a large, heavybottomed pan over high heat. Add onions to the pan and lower heat to medium. Cook until onions start to caramelize around the edges. Add 1 tablespoon salt, garlic, ginger and bay leaves and continue to cook, stirring often, 4–5 minutes. Place the mixture into a deep, ovensafe casserole dish. Reserve the pan for cooking the lamb.
In a dry fry pan, toast the whole spice seeds and peppercorns until fragrant. Remove from heat and cool. Place the cooled seeds and peppercorns in a spice mill or grinder and grind them into a powder. In a small bowl, toss the ground spices with cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, red chili, paprika and 3 tablespoons kosher salt. Set aside.
Cut the lamb into large pieces, approximately 3 inches square. Coat the pieces thoroughly with the spice mix. In the large, heavybottomed pan in which you cooked the onions, heat ¼ cup oil over high heat. Once the oil begins to smoke, reduce the heat to medium and add the lamb, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Sear the lamb on all sides. Remove the seared lamb pieces from the pan and place them in a single layer on top of the onion mixture in the casserole dish.
Reduce the heat on the heavy-bottomed pan to low. Add the wine and tomato paste to deglaze the pan, scraping and stirring continuously. Remove from heat and scrape the mixture onto the lamb.
Add 1–2 cups of water to the lamb; the water should come halfway up the meat. Cover the casserole dish with foil, ensuring the foil does not touch the lamb. (There should be 2–3 inches of space above the lamb.)
Bake at 300 degrees for 3–4 hours. The lamb should easily fall apart when it’s done cooking. Let the lamb cool in the casserole dish for 1 hour at room temperature. This allows the meat to absorb the cooking liquid and ensures the lamb stays tender and juicy.
When ready to serve, transfer the lamb and onion mixture to a deep serving platter. Spoon some of the cooking liquid onto the lamb. Add mint leaves for garnish.