Advertisement Close

Move on Over Turkey – Here Comes Stuffed Breast of Lamb!

posted on: Dec 27, 2022

By: Habeeb Salloum/Arab America Contributing Writer

Christmas and New Year’s invoke images of a feast table with turkey as its centre-piece.  How about trying something different this year?  

In the Middle East, dul’a mahshee or stuffed lamb breast is the honoured guest at the Christmas and New Year’s Day table. Paired with a yogurt-coriander side dish giving a Syrian-Lebanese aura to these festive occasions, it makes the repast an unforgettable one and the menu item for several holiday feasts in the future.  

What a way to celebrate!

The best way to get the right cut of meat is to ask the butcher.  

Stuffed Breast of Lamb – Dul’a Mahshee

Serves 8

Stuffed breast of lamb, rich in flavour with a medley of textures, is best served immediately and piping hot.  A good mixed green salad and yogurt as side dishes will complete the feast.  

4 tablespoons butter

1/2-pound lamb cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 3/4 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

3/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

1 cup rice, rinsed 

2 cups boiling water

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds

1 side of a breast of lamb, about 5 to 6 pounds, sliced to make an opening between the skin and the rib meat (to make a pocket)

1 whole medium onion

Olive oil

To make the stuffing, in a frying pan, melt the butter then sauté the meat over medium heat until it begins to brown. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of the allspice, the cinnamon, and the rice.  Add the boiling water then bring to boil.  Turn heat to low and cook for 10 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Stir in pine nuts and almonds.  Set aside.

When stuffing has cooled, stuff the pocket in the breast of the lamb and sew to close completely.  Place in a large saucepan and cover with water to 1 1/2-inches above the breast.  Add remaining salt, pepper and allspice, and the onion.  Bring to boil, cover and cook over medium-low heat for 2 hours.

Remove breast from its broth and let rest for 5 minutes.  

Brush olive oil all over the breast then place it on a baking tray.  Bake uncovered for 20 minutes in 400°F pre-heated oven, turning over once.  Remove and let sit for 5 minutes then serve immediately. 

Note:  the remaining broth in which the lamb shoulder was cooked can be refrigerated overnight then the congealed fat can be skimmed off the top and discarded. The remaining broth can be served as a soup using 4 cups broth and adding a medium-sized peeled potato diced into 1/2-inch cubes, 1 large tomato finely chopped, 2 tablespoons rice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon dried mint, and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. 

Yogurt with Fresh Coriander

Serves 8

This coriander-based yogurt or just plain yogurt is usually served as a side dish with stuffed lamb shoulder. 

4 cups plain yogurt

1 cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

Thoroughly combine all ingredients.  Chill and serve with the hot roast lamb shoulder.