Lamb Braised in Forest Floor with Charred Apricot Achar
*This post was created in partnership with American lamb. Thanks for supporting the brands that support the work I do here.
The month of July was filled with menu planning, recipe testing, ingredient gathering and cooking for 60 people in a 7 acre private garden in the middle of Seattle.
I’ve had the great pleasure of sitting at a Secret Supper table and I’ve known Jacob and Danielle, the owners, for years. I’m not sure they even knew that I harbored a secret desire to cook for one of their dinners. These dinners are pure magic. Something happens when you gather people at a long table, in a stunning, almost dream-like setting. Flowers run down the center of the wooden tables as the birds sing and the fresh air breathes around you. As much as I loved sitting at that table I wanted to be the one in the outdoor kitchen, standing around the grill and watching the guests at the table from that standpoint.
This July I had the chance to do that very thing twice and while I’m still exhausted I am also incredibly proud. There’s such a sense of accomplishment when you do something that you’ve dreamed of doing even when that thing scares you a bit. Actually, especially when that thing scares you.
The Seattle supper was held at Dunn gardens. A stunning 7 acre garden filled with native plants arranged in a way that is both wild and structured. Before this dinner I never knew this garden existed in my city and the crazy thing is, it’s 10 minutes from my front door.
The menu reflected a life in the northwest. I wanted to feature what is absolutely best of this season at the height of summer and also bring in some flavors of the wild. I had gathered mushrooms and conifer tips in the spring for this very reason. For a chef the menu is how we tell a story and this menu tells the story of the abundance of the northwest. It is the story of a friendship. My sous chef, Hina, spent much of her life growing up in Pakistan and many flavors in this menu reflect her life and what she has taught me and opened my eyes up to over the years. It is the story of the wild that surrounds us and how generous it is but also how fragile if we don’t return the generosity with our own gratitude and gifts.
I’m including the menu from the Seattle dinner below and thanks to our partner for the dinner, American Lamb, I get the pleasure of sharing the recipe of Lamb Braised in Forest Floor with Apricot Achar.
This dish tells the story I intended to tell beautifully. This stunning and sustainably raised lamb, sits on a bed of leaves, twigs, mushrooms, berries and earth found while I was hiking near my home. It’s a genius method from friend and fellow forager, Pascal Boudar, that brings the scent we all love while walking through the woods, to the plate. The lamb is finished with a bright, tart and spiced apricot pickle and apricots grilled until charred and slumped. It’s a stunning dish worthy of an occasion.
July 17, 2021
Zucchini blossom and pea pakora, wild mint & cilantro chutney
Smoked salmon rilletes on homemade butter cracker, black mustard seed caviar, chive flower
Greens, herbs and flowers in a summer goddess dressing
Charred summer squash, smoked raita, candied seeds and spruce tip salt
Pickled salmon, blistered tomatoes, ginger, curried chickpeas
Lamb braised in forest floor with roasted apricot achar, on fresh corn polenta, feta and wild mushroom powder
Charred eggplant curry, on fresh corn polenta, feta and wild mushroom powder
Wild rose & raspberry pavlova with fresh bay cream
Thanks to Danielle and Jacob from Secret Supper for making this dinner happen. For American Lamb for helping to bring it to life. And to MilkRun for sourcing the gorgeous produce.
Photos provided by:
Alba Betancourt – Absence Studio
Lamb Braised in Forest Floor with Charred Apricot Achar
1 6-8 pound American lamb shoulder
2 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons kosher salt
Enough forest floor* to fill the bottom of the roasting pan or Dutch oven
1 onion, cut into large chunks
6 garlic cloves
3 inch piece of ginger, sliced
*Forest floor is meant to mimic the intoxicating scent of a forest hike. You can use most varieties of spruce branches, fir, maple, and alder. If you’re lucky enough to find a few edible mushrooms, throw those in there. Fallen maple leaves add a lovely flavor. You could also use woody herbs like rosemary, sage, and time.
Charred Apricot Achar
3 pounds apricots, halved and pits removed
1 large red onion, sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup - 3/4 cup brown sugar
Juice and zest of two limes
1 inch piece of ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch fresh nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
2 cups white wine
For the lamb:
The day before you plan to cook the lamb season with garam masala and kosher salt.
Refrigerate overnight or up to two days before cooking.
Bring the lamb out of the fridge one hour before you start to cook.
Preheat your oven or grill to 350*F
Line the bottom of the pot with your forest floor. Set the lamb on time. Add the onion, garlic and ginger around the lamb. Then pour in the white wine.
Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid then roast for 3 - 4 hours, until tender but not quite falling off of the bone. Remove the lid, turn the oven up to 450*F and continue to roast for one hour more, until deeply charred and the lamb is fork tender.
Let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving with the Charred Apricot Achar.
For the achar:
Preheat your oven or grill to 425*F
In a large roasting dish combine 2 pounds of the apricot halves, red onion, vinegar, brown sugar, lime zest and juice, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili and a hearty pinch of salt.
Roast in an oven or grill until the apricots and onions are deeply charred in parts and the brine is bubbly.
Let cool before pureeing in a blender. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Grill the remaining apricots then add those to the purée. Serve with lamb.
*USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F followed by a 3 minute rest.