Lamb pilaf parlays leftovers into more leftovers.

Lamb pilafWe knew our final leg of local lamb was going to be like the rest of the animal—stringy and lean. We ended up liking it better as leftovers, then even more leftovers.

For the first round we cooked it slowly and wine-fully, following a traditional French braising method. The resulting meat was pleasant-tasting and tender, but we couldn’t finish it. We discussed hashing the remainder, or perhaps making Scotch broth, but we felt the urge for something different.

Perusing one of our vintage Time-Life “The Good Cook” series (Lamb, to be exact) we saw a pilaf and thought it would be a good idea, as long as we jazzed up its 1980s-era Americanized (lack of) seasonings and added stuff like cardamom pods, cinnamon and turmeric. The pilaf was not only tasty, but plentiful—making enough leftovers for several follow-on workday lunches.

If our neighbor comes around again offering us another scrawny sheep, this pilaf could be enough for us to give him another shot.


  • Servings: 6-8, possibly more
  • Print

(adapted from Tim Wilson and Fran Warde’s Ginger Pig Meat Book)

  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 1 TB turmeric
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2 c. basmati rice
  • 2 c. cooked lamb, chopped
  • 14-1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 4 c. lamb, chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 c. currants
  • 1/2 c. toasted pine nuts

Heat oil in a large pan. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly caramelized.  Stir in garlic and spices and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add rice, lamb and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and stir to mix.

Add stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pan and cook for 10-12 minutes until liquid is incorporated.

Mix in remaining ingredients.


    • It was a sad little lambie. We bitched about it every time we cooked a part of it. Can’t blame our neighbor too much though. He apologized for it when he delivered it to our house this spring. (Thankfully, the ones we bought in prior years were good.)

  1. Eha

    This looks ‘yummy’ ~ buying mostly lamb steaks, shanks and cutlets, there sadly never seem to be any ‘leftovers’, especially since lamb is my favourite meat!! But have to laugh – took a couple of cookbooks off the shelf to look for a forgotten recipe – Time-Life’s ‘Lamb’ is at the moment about 1 metre from my typing fingers!! Thanks for the inspiration for ‘tarting’ up some of the recipes – I have the whole series!! [Actually the 1960s ‘International Foods’ are still quite current 🙂 ! The books are an oft used reference in classic i’national cooking!!!].]

    • Well you’re in the right part of the world for lamb, aren’t you? 😉 Aren’t the old Time-Life books fun? You’re absolutely right about the International Foods series. I love them all.

    • Roger, you are becoming quite the vegetarian, aren’t you? That’s fine and all, but I’d hate to think I’d miss your wonderful duck legs should I ever make it back to the Vendée.

      • They are great fun. I have to admit that, several times, I’ve brought home volumes that we already had (inherited from moms). Luckily, they don’t cost much. Just this week, though, I found the “Variety Meats” one, which I’d never seen before. Steve was thrilled.

    • Thanks so much, Rachel! We are the Queen and King of repurposing. Because I really dislike leftovers and because Steve won’t throw anything out, that is the only way we can get along. 🙂

  2. Another scrawny sheep… Ha! Your pilaf sounds great. I haven’t had one with lamb in awhile–thanks for the reminder. Re: Scotch broth–consider making it with farro. I think you’ll like the outcome, especially if you reheat it. Ken

  3. We are on the same wavelength. I prepared braised lamb in a stew form last night and simmered it long until tender. What a great recipe – I am glad to hear that you can find such great lamb. Also, I agree with Ken – farro would be scrumptious in the dish, as well. Your warm spices and fresh herbs sound delightful with the tomatoes, almost like as Persian Koresh. Thank you for sharing! – Shanna

  4. That looks delicious! A nice bowl of warm comforty goodness would totally hit the spot on a chilly day like today. And a good save on the leftover lamb. Whenever I’ve tried to repurpose cooked lamb meat, I’m never thrilled about the outcome. Definitely trying this next time around!

  5. Ok this is just funny, I am about to make a big lamb roast this weekend and I was trying to figure out what to do with the left overs the next couple of days. So perfect timing to see this thread. Saved and copied!

  6. This sounds like a wonderful pilaf, Michelle, and a tasty way to deal with some sub-par lamb. I rarely buy sufficient quantities to have lamb left over but, I must say, it would b worth over-buying just to give this dish a try.

  7. Pingback: 7 Delicious Worldwide Recipes to Use Leftover Lamb - WorldWideDinners

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