The slightly gamy flavor of lamb is traditionally combined with hot chiles, cumin, and garlic in such dishes as Lebanese kebabs and Moroccan merguez sausage. Since chili con carne is made with the same spices, lamb chili makes perfect sense. You may prefer your chili with or without beans, served over cornbread or rice. My Irish-American grandfather loved chili with a scoop of mashed potatoes in the middle of the bowl. That’s the way we serve it in our new home in Ireland, too.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large covered pot. Add the lamb in batches, and cook the meat until no pink remains. Season each batch with salt and pepper to taste. Add more oil to the pan as necessary to cook each batch. When the meat is cooked, transfer to a bowl. Cook the onions in the same pan, scraping to get the meat scraps. Add the garlic and chopped red chile when the onion starts to wilt and cook for a few minutes until softened. Spoon the onion mixture into the bowl with the browned meat.
- Meanwhile, combine chile powder, paprika, smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, chicken broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are very soft. Remove from the heat and carefully puree with a stick blender for a minute or so until the mixture is smooth.
- Combine the tomato mixture with the browned lamb and onions. Simmer the chili in the Dutch oven or covered pot on the stovetop for two hours or in a slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally. Correct the seasoning and add some pepper sauce if you like. Cook until the meat is tender and the chili is done to your liking.
- Serve the chili in large bowls with a half-cup scoop of mashed potatoes on top. Or substitute cooked beans, boiled rice, or al dente pasta. Garnish with chopped onions and shredded cheese if desired.
Robb Walsh is a three-time James Beard Journalism Award winner. Walsh is the author of a dozen food books including The Tex-Mex Cookbook and The Chili Cookbook and is a partner in El Real Tex-Mex Café in Houston, Texas. He currently resides in Ireland and blogs about his culinary adventures on IrelandEats.com