Lamb confit (Awarma)

Awarma is the word used to indicate bits of lamb preserved in lamb fat; it is usually prepared in rural areas and the jars are used up throughout the year to flavor one dish or another; the fat used is from the lamb tail and that variety of lamb  (fat-tailed sheep) is not raised in the US or Canada.

A traditional  breakfast is eggs in awarma  baked in a clay skillet. The equivalent of the Anglo-Saxon eggs and bacon, except the fat here is lamb fat. Awarma is  also used as part of the stuffing for kibbeh. A tablespoon of awarma adds meat flavor to a stew or pilaf, even if no meat is used. It is nice to have on hand for last-minute cooking.

The recipe is courtesy of  Rabih,  a young meat-cutter  in Beirut.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound of lean lamb ground (habra)
  • 1 pound of lamb fat, ground
  • 1 tbsp of salt, 1 tsp of allspice or seven-spice
METHOD:
  1. Melt  the lamb fat  over very  low heat in a deep pot. Sprinkle the meat  with spices and add to the pot. Let the lamb cook in its own fat for 45 minutes over very low heat, adding salt to it halfway, stirring it constantly and watching so that the meat does not burn.  Transfer the mixture to a sterilized jar and store in the fridge for a few weeks. 
NOTE: Fat from the tail is not easily available in the US; you could substitute fat from other sections. Awarma keeps for months but I prefer to err on the side of cautiousness. Feel free to keep it longer if you are familiar with the canning process.
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18 Comments

  1. Posted May 18, 2012 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    I have never tried this – how interesting! I don’t think I can easily find it here though….

  2. Posted May 18, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    That must be mighty scrumptious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. Posted May 18, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    You took some bold steps in posting this one. :)
    Little note, Sito used to specify that the meat used with this was ground very fine, passed three times at least. Love these old notes by the way. Memories. :)

  4. Joumana
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    @Mark. I was discussing it with Rabih (the nice butcher) today; he told me some people like to keep it in small chunks but he prefers it ground fine, like your Sito! Your comments are so “right on” (sorry can’t think of a better word!)

  5. Posted May 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Every country has their favorite fat for cooking. I enjoyed reading about this one!

  6. Posted May 19, 2012 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    My grandmother always had this in her fridge…I have never made it, but boy would I love to find it in a jar! Thanks for posting a recipe!

  7. Posted May 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I imagine that awarma would come in handy for flavoring many dishes. It strikes me as a versatile ingredient.

  8. Posted May 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    No doubt the lamb flavor is concentrated which means it adds great flavor to dishes. Love it.

    Velva

  9. Posted May 20, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Duck confit and rillettes keeps beautifully in the freezer, so I would imagine this does too. Seems a shame to make it in small quantities! It sounds delicious (I am cooking lamb for dinner, so the house is full of that smell and I can totally imagine what your awarma brings to a dish).

  10. Posted May 21, 2012 at 2:14 am | Permalink

    This looks so full of flavours…have never made this myself. Love lamb in any form and yours look superb!!

  11. Posted May 21, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    un petit gout d’agneau ça doit etre délicieux dans les oeufs !!
    bizz parisienne ici c’est le déluge et l’hiver est revenu Y’en a marre du mauvais temps !!pierre

  12. Posted May 31, 2012 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    Lamb is may favorite meat and love the fat too. I can only imagine how good this must be… the eggs made with it sound delicious.

  13. Posted August 8, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    quel plaisir de découvrir cette recette chez toi!
    ma grand mère en faisait et appelait ça khli3 azir, parce que la viande confite était conservée dans un zir c’est à dire un pot en terre cuite. la viande, après avoir longuement cuit avec la graisse, jusqu’à ce qu’il n’y ai plus aucune trace d’eau , est mise dans un pot en terre et entièrement recouverte d’huile d’olive qui assurait sa conservation. il faut croire que c’était efficace vu l’absence de frigo à l’époque!!
    merci Joumana! tu m’as donné l’envie d’en préparer! bises!

  14. Joumana
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    @Kouky: je suis très heureuse d’apprendre que ces coutumes sont partagées entre le Maghreb et le Mashreq~surtout par le biais de ta gran-mère!

  15. Elena
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I can imagine how it’s delightfully – sandwich with chiabatta and awarma! M-m-m…..
    Joumana, now twice a week a have a new jar ( something as 500-550g) of “solar-power” jam.
    During experiments i found that it’s possible to reduce sugar noticeably to 100g to 650g-700 of fruits (peeled and sliced).. But i store it in fridge.

  16. Joumana
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    @Elena: Great news!

  17. Posted December 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I JUST MADE THIS TODAY…..STILL COOKING! MY MOM ALWAYS HAD THIS AT OUR HOUSE WHEN MY BROTHERS &I WERE GROWING UP…..A REAL TREAT! THE HARDEST PART IS GETTING THE MEAT & FAT SEPERATED FROM A WHOLE LEG OF LAMB! HOPE IT TASTES LIKE MOM’S DID!

  18. Rona Martiyan
    Posted May 14, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    I lived for a number of years in Turkey and while reading the House of Stone it was mentioned. The food of the region is the best. I remember the lambs with the fat tails!

5 Trackbacks

  1. [...] favorite is the ‘Eggs with Awarma’ on a thin brown dough baked in the [...]

  2. [...] You can substitute sausage meat for the awarma or make the awarma when you have some decent pasture-fed lamb. Recipe is here.  [...]

  3. By Why go to Lebanon? | Amelia Hanslow on April 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    [...] the remote Hermel Mountains near the Syrian border we were introduced to awarma, a lamb confit of sorts, whereby finely chopped lamb or mutton is cooked and preserved in sheep’s [...]

  4. […] Taste of Beirut […]

  5. […] You can substitute sausage meat for the awarma or make the awarma when you have some decent pasture-fed lamb. Recipe is here.  […]

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