A cooking paradox: Use spice to fight the heat

By Jim Bailey

It’s the spiciness of Mongolian lamb that helps keep the shepherds from overheating in the summertime. Honestly!

Those wanderers in Eastern Asia of old knew how to cook with spices. … hot spices, that is. And they knew that the spicier the dish, the cooler they were working in the hot sun.

I took the liberty of adding a subtle touch of nature to offset this heat.

3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons each chili powder and cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon each garlic and onion powder
1 teaspoon each dried ginger and white pepper
1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed and cubed

 Easy Hot Rice and Peas:

2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup short grained rice
1 cup cooked peas
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup apple cider or juice
2 hot chili peppers, halved, stemmed and seeded
1 (8-ounce)bag baby spinach

Mix first 7 ingredients well in a large, shallow bowl.

Add the cubed lamb, toss to evenly coat, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

When ready, prepare Hot Rice and Peas.

Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until boiling.

Add rice and peas, stir to combine, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Stir in salt and black pepper to taste and Parmesan just before serving.

While rice is cooking, heat oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add lamb and peppers. Stir to combine and brown meat and peppers on all sides. Add cider, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 15 minutes, or until just cooked through.

Remove lid, add spinach, stir well and cook until wilted. This will only take a minute or so. When ready, scoop some Hot Rice and Peas on a serving dish and ladle a third of the Mongol Lamb over the top.

Repeat with 2 more serving dishes and serve hot.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at theyankeechef@aol.com.

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