Acutely comforting, cinnamon has always been a favorite spice of mine. Could it be because there is generally a direct correlation between the smell of it and the nearby gratification that is eating a cinnamon roll, or an apple pie, or perhaps a hearty stew? Probably. But no matter the reason, my eyes lit up when I opened the attachment describing this month’s Iron Chef theme ingredient.
It wasn’t long before I had my two dishes chosen; for once, I didn’t vacillate, which historically, is customary for me moments before setting foot in the grocery store.
Amidst watching the Olympic games, listening to Emily’s impressive iTunes playlist that eerily seemed as if we had chosen the music from our own library of tunes, and chatting about blogging, Anton Ohno’s ‘soul patch’ and Lindsey Vonn’s creepishly long eyebrows, we ate our way through 12 dishes, most of which are pictured below (minus the cinnamon horchata).
[Dishes, from left to right and down: cinnamon lime chicken fajitas, cinnamon raspberry cupcakes, cinnamon and goat cheese dumplings, cinnamon toast crunch and white chocolate cookies, cinnamon biscuits with cinnamon pear butter, cinnamon roasted vegetables with chickpeas and quinoa, roasted cinnamon-chile sweet pototoes, cinnamon-peanut butter cups, and cinnamon rice pudding with cinnamon roasted bananas]
Despite the somewhat fuzzy picture quality, all dishes were gorgeous and tasted even better. I made a (surprise) Moroccan lamb stew and some cinnamon buttermilk biscuits n’ pear butter. My favorites of the night? The cinnamon ice cream, Jenn’s quinoa dish, and Hope’s dumplings (even though she was saddened by how they turned out, I thought they were mighty fine). My fellow blogger and buddy Emily pulled through with the win, bringing a creamy, rich, and smooth cinnamon ice cream to the table; the cinnamon roasted pe-cans may have sealed the deal. It seems ice cream is the way to go, as it’s won 3 of the 9 battles (this, my basil ice cream, and Jim’s peppercorn custard).
The top three (pictured below):
1. Emily’s Cinnamon Ice Cream with Cinnamon-Roasted Pecans
2. Christina’s Cinnamon-Lime Chicken Fajitas
3. my Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Caramelized Onions
Battle 10 will mark our Iron Chef anniversary! Hard to believe a year of battles has gone by, but it’s definitely been fun. And Emily claims to already have the ingredient picked out – but if she’s like the rest of us past winners, it will change 25-50 times before next month!
Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, & Caramelized Onions
Loosely adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2008; serves 6
6 c Vidalia onions, thinly sliced (~ 2 lbs)
2 lbs bone leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 c beef stock
2 cinnamon sticks
2 t g cinnamon
1 t salt
1 t g black pepper
1 t g ginger
1/8 t crumbled saffron threads
4 chopped plum tomatoes
1 peeled and chopped sweet potato
4 T chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
2 T olive oil
Combine 2 c onions, lamb, and 2 c broth in heavy large pot. Add cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, salt, pepper, ginger, and saffron; bring to boil over medium-high heat. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently 1 1/2 hours. Add tomatoes, sweet potato, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Continue to simmer, partially covered, until lamb is tender, sweet potatoes soften, and juices thicken, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove cinnamon sticks. If mixture is more watery than desired, turn heat up to high and reduce broth, which will further concentrate flavor of stew.
Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add remaining 4 c onions. Sauté until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; sauté until onions are deep brown, stirring often, about 45 minutes. Cool, cover. (Rewarm prior to topping stew)
Transfer lamb stew to large shallow bowl. Scatter caramelized onions and remaining 2 tablespoons parsley over.