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This recipe can easily be made as a savory dish or a sweeter one. I chose a middle ground with the recipe below but substitutions are noted and can be easily adapted to suit your tastes. I also created this recipe to emphasize the mild and sweet taste of the Icelandic sheep meat raised 100 % on mountain grassy pastures (from Alpha Omega Ranch). I used mutton from a 3 year old ram, but store-bought lamb can be used as well. If using a commercially grown lamb you may want to drain the fat as you cook or adjust the seasonings if the mix tastes “too lamby”. Also, the grains used can be any combination of ancient grains (amaranth, quinoa, millet, bulgur) but I chose the first two. For a lighter pilaf style use more bulgur or millet and less amaranth. Finally, this mix might do well as stuffing for mushrooms (savory style), in yellow or red bell peppers (for sweet or savory mix) or green peppers (savory mix), or even in a loaf pan as a healthy and flavorful meat loaf (for a loaf use more amaranth, millet or quinoa and add egg or 2 to bind).
- 3⁄4 lb ground mutton (or lamb)
- 1 medium sized winter squash, halved and seeds removed (use acorn, Kubota, etc., but not spaghetti squash)
- 1 cup cooked amaranth (or substitute millet for lighter texture)
- 1⁄2 cup cooked quinoa (or substitute Bulgur for more chewy texture)
- 1⁄4-1⁄2 medium sized sweet onion, chopped (or yellow onion)
- 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1⁄4 cup golden raisin
- 1⁄4 cup dried currant (I used zante)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts (toasted) or 2 tablespoons pecans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)
- 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seed, crushed
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon (omit in savory version)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper (to taste)
- 3 tablespoons whole milk (or light cream)
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (or fresh squeezed lemon juice)
- 1 tart apple, diced (optional)
- Start cooking amaranth (add 1 cup grain to 2 ¼ c liquid; once boiling stir, lower heat to simmer, cover and let cook 25 minutes).
- Sauté chopped onions in 2-3 TBS oil (preferably olive oil) in heavy bottom skillet on med-low heat until slightly softened.
- Add ground mutton and continue sautéing until meat is browned.
- Add pepper and salt to taste. If meat gets dry add a little olive oil.
- While meat is browning start quinoa (in small pot toast ½ Celsius grain in 2-3 TBS butter until slightly toasted in color and smell, maybe 10 minutes or so; then add 1 Celsius water, stir, bring to boil, low heat to simmer, cover and cook 12-15 minutes.).
- While quinoa is toasting check amaranth which should be almost done. Stir, if too much moisture is left add your dried currents, stir, and remove lid. Let currants absorb extra water.
- Once meat is lightly browned (but not crispy or overcooked), remove from heat. Season meat with Chinese Five Spice, Allspice and Cinnamon.
- Stir in raisins, pine nuts (or pecans) and apple if using one.
- Add chopped parsley and grains. Mix well.
- Add milk and mix well. Adjust seasonings if needed, but not too much.
- Stir in rice vinegar. This will brighten up the flavor of all the spices.
- Score the inside of squash lightly, being sure not to pierce the skin. Stuff meat mixture into squash halves.
- Place filled squash halves in baking pan, ensuring that the squash will not tip over during baking. [Savory version can be topped with breadcrumbs and/or grated parmesan at this stage.] Fill bottom of pan with ¼ inch of water, cover with tinfoil or lid but allowing some steam to release.
- Cook in preheated 350 degree F oven for 45 min to 1 hour (or until squash flesh flakes easily with fork).