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April 6, 2023

Coffee-braised American Lamb Belly, Almond & Cardamom Dukkah, Roasted Dates


Recipe Provided By
Chef Michael P. Scelfo


Marinated American lamb chops with rosemary & garlic on a plate


  • 2 tablespoons ground fennel seed
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 5 pounds boneless American Lamb breast/belly
  • 2 apples, rough chop
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 6 shallots
  • 2 carrots, rough chop
  • 2 celery, rough chop
  • 3 cups brewed coffee, chilled
  • 2 cups sherry
  • 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 12 large sage leaves
  • 1/2 pound roasted dried dates, pitted and halved, roasted
  • Minced parsley, as desired
  • Orange zest, as desired 

Dukkah Spice Mix:

  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup whole cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns


In a small bowl, mix fennel seed with 2 tablespoons of oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper.  Rub mixture all over lamb.  In a large heavy casserole or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil; add lamb and brown well over moderately high heat, about 20 minutes.  Transfer lamb to a large plate; wipe out the casserole.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil into casserole; brown apples, garlic, shallots, carrots and celery.  Return lamb to the casserole.  Add coffee and sherry; reduce by half.  Add stock, bay leaves and sage; bring to a boil.  Cover with a tight-fitting lid; transfer casserole to oven.  Braise lamb at 350°F for 3-1/2 to 4 hours, turning the meat occasionally, until tender. 

Transfer lamb to a large platter; cover with foil.  Discard vegetables, sage and bay leaves.  Simmer braising liquid until reduced to 1-1/2 cups, about 50 minutes. 

For the Dukkah Spice Mix:  On a baking sheet, spread sesame seeds out in a single layer.  Roast at 350°F for about 2 minutes each side.  Remove from oven; set aside.  Place almonds on same baking sheet; roast for about 3 minutes each side.  Remove; combine with sesame seeds. 

In a food processor, combine sesame seeds and almonds, fennel seeds, cardamom, salt and peppercorns; grind for 2 to 4 minutes, until ground. 

To serve, slice the lamb, transfer to plates or a platter and spoon sauce on top.  Sprinkle with Dukkah Spice Mix and a few roasted dates.  Sprinkle with minced parsley and orange zest if desired.

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