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The Hunger Games: Lamb Stew with Dried Plums Recipe

March 21, 2012
by

Lamb Stew with photo

Raise your hand if you read The Hunger Games and are counting down the days until the movie. And raise your hand if the descriptions of the food served at the Capitol made your mouth water. If both your hands are raised, this post is for you.

I admit it. I enjoyed the entire series. And while the books slowly depreciated as the series continued, I enjoyed every aspect — from the romance to the struggles and politics and especially the descriptions of the food. It’s not called The Hunger Games for nothing. And while The Hunger Games only touches on food a bit, everything from the Prim’s cheese wrapped in basil leaves to the meals eaten at during the actual games lingered with me for a long time.

Once I finished reading (and rereading) the books, I wanted to experience it one step further without having to be thrown into the game to fight for my life. The easiest solution? Attempt to replicate one dish. And the choice was easy: Katniss’ favorite Capitol dish, lamb stew with dried plums on wild rice.

Lamb Stew closeup

This recipe is an mashup of Julia Child’s beef bourguignon and one from Fictional Foods‘ version of lamb stew. (Fictional Foods is a fantastic website attempting to recreate dishes from pop culture such as Harry Potter and Angry Birds.)

While the recipe from Fictional Foods was fine, I wanted to develop a richer flavor that can only be accomplished with a long cook time — 3+ hours — and the addition of wine while cooking. And not just any wine: a sweet red wine with hints of dark chocolate. The chocolate wine from Chocolate Shop enhances the sweetness of dried plums (aka prunes) and also helps reduce the gaminess of the lamb as well as tenderize it. It’s savory with a tiny bit of sweetness that’s almost undetectable.

Lambstew fork

As with beef bourguignon, this dish takes a lot of time but is worth the effort. The end result is lamb so tender it can be cut with a spoon and the taste improves as leftovers. And true to the book, it’s an extremely rich dish, best paired with any leftover wine.

Lamb Stew with Dried Plums

Approximately 10 servings

4 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into 1/4 -inch thick pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 lbs of lamb meat from the shoulder, cubed into 2-inch pieces
2 carrots, sliced
2 cups pearl onions, peeled
1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white sugar 
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups chocolate wine
2 – 3 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1 crumbled bay leaf
1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
8 prunes
2 cups wild rice prepared according to directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large skillet, simmer bacon for 10 minutes in water. Drain and dry.

Sauté bacon in 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until slightly brown. Remove bacon leaving fat in pan.

Dry lamb pieces in paper towels. Adding a few lamb pieces at a time, brown in bacon fat over medium-high heat. Place browned meat in large dutch oven. Continue process until all pieces are browned on all sides. Add bacon to dutch oven with lamb.

Using same fat in skillet, brown the sliced carrots and set aside.

Toss the lamb and bacon with salt, black pepper  and sugar. Sprinkle meat with flour until lightly coated. Set pot uncovered in the middle position of oven for 4 minutes.

Remove pot from oven and reduce oven to 325 degrees F.

Add wine and beef stock to just barely cover the meat. Stir in tomato paste, garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer on top of stove.

Cover pot and place back in oven allowing meat to slowly simmer for 3-4 hours. Check every hour to make sure liquid barely covers the meat, adding additional wine and stock if necessary.

While beef is cooking, sauté onions and mushrooms in remaining olive oil until lightly browned. Add onions, mushrooms, prunes and carrots to last hour of cooking.

Meat is done when tender.

Serve over wild rice.

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen permalink
    March 21, 2012 9:28 AM

    I loved the books and reread them all before the movie. I will definitely be making this soon and chocolate wine sound soooooo gooood.

  2. March 21, 2012 11:07 AM

    I’ve also read the books, am waiting for the movie and will attempt to do a Hunger Games inspired nail art….so yeah, my hand is up in the air! Great Recipe!

    • March 21, 2012 4:43 PM

      Thanks, Ellie! I can’t wait to see what your nails look like.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    March 21, 2012 11:26 AM

    Advice: STAY ALIVE

  4. March 21, 2012 3:31 PM

    I bet I could slam this together with my pressure cooker – with a sacrifice of “depth” in the name of time? I know it’s a fool’s bargain but I might give it a run so we make our opening night 10:00 ticket time! :)

    • March 21, 2012 3:51 PM

      Since I don’t have a pressure cooker or even played with one, you need to let me know how this turns out. So. Excited. For. The. Movie. EEK

  5. March 22, 2012 5:00 PM

    PRUNES!

  6. March 23, 2012 8:12 AM

    Looks excellent! I’m going to see the movie on Sunday – can’t wait! Surely they will also show Katniss eating her favorite dish in the movie!

    • March 26, 2012 8:35 AM

      I can’t wait to see it either. I’m pretty excited!!

  7. March 23, 2012 8:43 AM

    I love you for making this! I’ve read the books, but won’t be able to see the movie until next week at the earliest, so I think I’ll have to make this (I’ve never done lamb in my crockpot, wondering if will work for the long cooking time… I love coming home to my dinner already made.)

    • March 26, 2012 8:35 AM

      You’re welcome. As of Monday, I still haven’t seen the movie either. I will amend that tomorrow!

  8. March 23, 2012 2:00 PM

    That stew looks fantastic! I’m a huge fan of lamb, and anything in stew form becomes so delicious and tender.

    • March 26, 2012 8:35 AM

      This was my first time cooking with lamb and I was so nervous! I’m so glad everything went well.

  9. vintagesugarcube permalink
    March 23, 2012 2:03 PM

    Darlene- I haven’t read the books yet, but now I feel like I have to! Great looking stew :)

  10. pinkcandles permalink
    March 23, 2012 3:17 PM

    My daughter was so excited to see that you made Katniss’s favorite stew. She is absolutely obsesseed with the HG! Can’t wait to see this move! Great post!

  11. March 26, 2012 6:49 PM

    The Hunger Games trilogy were our books for the month of March for Book Club. My friend did a similar recipe to have the meal match the book. Great thinking!

  12. Anonymous permalink
    April 17, 2012 3:29 PM

    I’m making this right now for my Hunger Games themed Bunco night. House smells wonderful. Have had a glass of wine while it’s cooking and that not only tastes good but SMELLS wonderful!!!! I am also making some District 11 bread to go with this meal. Hoping everything tastes as good as it smells!!!!

    • April 20, 2012 11:52 AM

      I hope the stew turned out well. And great idea on District 11 bread!

  13. Erik permalink
    August 12, 2012 10:09 AM

    Made this today…had to use a crock pot instead of the dutch oven, but it was still great.

  14. Feather of Maat permalink
    March 24, 2013 11:13 PM

    As a huge fan of the Hunger Games, lamb, savory chocolate, and wild rice, i must say – HOLY CRAP. When I read the descriptions of the food, I wondered whether Collins was referencing actual dishes she had tasted and whether lamb and prunes was a “thing”. It is now!

  15. Gemma permalink
    June 30, 2013 5:28 PM

    I made this tonight after just rereading the hunger games books which are awesome! I’ve been wanting to make the stew for ages and cook something with wine as I have never done that before! I used a slow cooker instead though and served it with farl bread which was interesting. Thanks for the recipe! I look forward to having the leftovers for lunh tomorrow :) I was wondering although, why use beef stock instead of lamb stock? I’m guessing its for a stronger flavour??

    • July 7, 2013 7:53 AM

      Thanks, Gemma! I based it on a beef stew recipe I’ve made in the past but honestly, it’s hard to find lamb stock without having to make it myself. I’m sure lamb stock instead of beef would be equally delicious.

Trackbacks

  1. Lamb stew with dried plums (aka still on the Hunger Games kick) « Rachel Recommends, Writes, & Relates

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