Braised Lamb with Chickpeas

This meal was inspired by 2 different recipes in my favorite Italian cookbook. One had pork, chick peas and spinach; the other was a spicy braised lamb in a white wine sauce. We ended up with a braised lamb with chickpeas in a white wine sauce, with a side of Tuscan kale, served with grilled polenta. How’s that for going with the flow, working in The Way?

adapted from Trattoria, by Patricia Wells

1 cup (200g) dried chickpeas

Wash and rinse well. Soak overnight. Drain, and place in a large sauce pan and cover with 6 cups of water, large bay leaf, and half slice onion. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook until chickpeas are tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of chickpea, and how fresh it is. Test by pressing cooked bean between your fingers: it should just resist , then mash. Remove cooked beans from heat, remove cover and let cool in liquid until ready to use. If not using right away, let cool completely, then store chickpeas with liquid to cover in fridge. Drain liquid before adding to meat in the next step, but reserve the cooking liquid.

For the Lamb:
3 TBL. olive oil
5 anchovy fillets, drained and minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1.5 lbs (680g) meat from leg of lamb, or shoulder, cut into 3-inch pieces
sea salt
ground black pepper
1 cup (250ml) dry white wine (we used a pinot gris)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Heat oil and anchovies together over medium-high heat in large deep skillet. Add red pepper and cook just until oil takes on pepper color, then add lamb meat in batches to brown. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper while browning. When all lamb has browned, add wine, vinegar, garlic and oregano. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add drained chickpeas, and continue cooking until meat is tender, about another 30-45 minutes.

To Finish:
1 tsp flour
3 TBL. reserved cooking liquid from beans, or water

Taste and correct seasoning. Combine flour and reserved liquid or water, and stir well. Move meat and beans away from center of pan, and add slurry to the center, stirring well. Combine with rest of the dish, and cook until the sauce begins to thicken and lose opaque color from the flour.

Serve with polenta, fresh or grilled, and a salad or your favorite cooked vegetable.