Spiced Lamb with Plums

I was in two minds whether to post this recipe because, frankly, it is Brown Food and Brown Food rarely photographs well. It does however taste really good, and I refuse to be railroaded by social media likes, so I ask you to take a leap of faith and trust me on this one. It’s a good recipe if you’ve got an over-abundance of plums or (like me) an over-stuffed freezer.

The red wine and plums meld with warming spices for an aromatic, slow-cooked dish that’s simple but, I think, delicious and one that works all year round. I like to serve it with a fairly plain saffron-infused bulgur wheat or rice pilaf and a green salad. 

Any leftovers are good layered with par-boiled, sliced potatoes and a mirepoix of sauteed leeks, celery, carrots and onions in a sort of hot pot. You may need to moisten this with a little stock if you’ve scoffed all the sauce.

Spiced Lamb with Plums


1/2 a shoulder of lamb

2 tsp ras el hanout spice mix

Salt and pepper

1 tbs butter and a small splash of oil

250 ml red wine

10-12 dark-skinned red plums, halved and stoned

1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 x 7cm stick of cinnamon

2 star anise

6 allspice berries

Fresh coriander, to garnish + 4-6 fresh plums if available


Pre-heat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Season the meat with salt and black pepper and the ras el hanout, rubbing them all over.

In a deep, heavy-based pan, melt the butter with the oil and brown the meat all over. Pour in the wine, cover and place in the oven.

After half an hour, add the plums, garlic, onion and spices. Re-cover and cook until the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender. This is a slow-cooked dish so aim for another three hours. Turn the meat halfway through and make sure it isn’t drying out – add a splash of water if it is.

Once the meat is done, remove it and rest somewhere warm. Skim the fat (there’ll be quite a lot) from the cooking juices and push them through a sieve into a clean pan.Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary with salt, pepper and perhaps just a little sugar.

Alternatively, finish the sauce, allow it to cool, refrigerate overnight, then remove the fat. Take the meat off the bone, reheating it in the sauce at 180C for 30 minutes or until piping hot.

If you have fresh plums, halve and stone a handful and add them to the sauce at this point (or towards the end of cooking if you’re serving it the same day you make it) so they’re cooked but still holding their shape. Use to garnish the finished dish, along with a scattering of fresh coriander.

8 thoughts on “Spiced Lamb with Plums

  1. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I definitely like the sound of this and I think that the food is way more important than the image. I was just discussing this with my husband about how images are sprayed with water, oil, glycerine, even glue is used to make them look better in a photograph but my heart cries out against this. What a waste of good food for the sake of an enhanced image.

    • Thank you so much! I agree, it drives me crazy when pictures in cookbooks have been tweaked to include things not in the recipe or don’t look like the finished dish.

  2. Oh, I more than trust you with that recipe ! I love making various Moroccan tagines and, thus, always seem to have home-made or bought ras el hanout ion the kitchen. Adding plums and red wine would lead this to a new flavour fusion . . . cannot wait to try ! All dishes cannot have bright reds, oranges, yellows and greens to make them photogenic . . . many of the tastiest stews are just plain . . . brown. . . 🙂 !

    • Thank you, Sherry. I don’t think the flavour profiles would work very well with chicken, to be honest, plus this is a slow-cooked dish so a chicken would be done to rags. Do you eat pork? It would work with pork shoulder. Lx

  3. As a fellow food blogger I have to admire the way you did make two brown foods look very inviting indeed. And I’m intrigued by the flavor profile, especially the as el hanout, which I’ve heard of but never actually tried (at least not knowingly). I’m a lamb lover from way back, so I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy it.

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