Lamb or Goat Neck with East African Berbere Spices
Cooking a whole neck can look intimidating, but this recipe, cooked easily in a crock pot during the day, will show you how easy it can be. There’s nothing like coming home to the smell of spices simmering away. The leftovers are even better the next day. The Tavia East African spice blend is available here, but pre-made berbere spice also works good.
Neck is basically designed by nature for slow cooking, think of it as a bunch of tender meat, surrounded and insulated by bone and all sorts of good stuff that keeps it moist while it cooks. Braised collard greens, lentils, and injera are a great compliment to this. This is easy, you only need to know two words: low and slow. As long as you have a crock pot, or a dutch oven, or something nice and roomy to cook the neck in, you’re golden. And remember neck is just a muscle group though much more tender than most others.
Here’s a tutorial on how I cook them. These directions work well with either lamb or goat neck.
This recipe is by chef Alan Bergo. A chef from Minnesota, Alan is a 15 year veteran of the culinary industry, former executive chef of acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. Founder of the website Forager Chef, he’s best known as a respected authority on Midwestern foraging. Learn more about Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at Forager Chef.
2 large sweet bell peppers, not green as they’re bitter
1 large yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 ½ tablespoons Tavia East African Spice blend, or substitute 1 tablespoon premade berbere
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 14oz can unseasoned, whole peeled tomatoes, tomato sauce or puree
2 cups meat stock, or water
1/4 cup cooking oil or lard
- Blacked the peppers over a flame on a gas stove or a grill or broil in the oven until charred all over, then transfer to a plastic bag and cool. Slice the onion into ¼ inch julienne, slice the garlic thinly, then reserve both separately. When the peppers are cool, peel and remove the seeds, then slice into ¼ inch strips.
- Puree the whole tomatoes in a blender or mash them coarsely and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 325 ℉.
- Heat the oil and the garlic in a cold pan with a lid large enough to fit the neck, roughly a 3 qt capacity. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring often, until the garlic is deeply browned and fragrant, watching closely so it doesn’t burn. When the garlic is deeply brown but not burnt, add the onions and spice mix, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes more to halt the cooking of the garlic.
- Add the roasted peppers, neck, tomato and stock until the liquid comes up about 2/3 of the lamb.
- Place a piece of parchment over the top of the meat to prevent drying. Close the pan with the lid, place in the oven and cook for 1 ½ -2 hours, or until the lamb is very tender. You can also cook the lamb in a crock pot from this point.
- Remove the pot from the oven and allow the neck to cool until it can be handled. Pick the meat and shred coarsely, then return to the pot and reduce the liquid on medium heat until the mixture is thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Season the lamb-pepper mixture with salt to taste, tear some of the fresh mint over the top, then serve.
Video by Repast Studios