1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron strands
In a warm (not hot) skillet, dry the saffron strands. Crush again, then soak in the hot water and store in a small jar in the refrigerator. This will keep for up to a week.
For longer storage (my favorite method), quadruple the recipe quantities above: pour the saffron water into a plastic ice cube tray and freeze into cubes. Once they are frozen, shake out the cubes and store in a freezer bag. Each cube will be equivalent to 2 tablespoons saffron water or a good pinch of dried saffron threads.
Tagine and assembly
3 pounds thick lamb shoulder arm chops, bone-in, cut into 9 or 10 pieces
1 tablespoon La Kama Spice Mixture
2 tablespoons Saffron Water
1 tablespoon liquid honey, preferably a floral honey such as orange blossom, lavender or acacia
1 medium red onion, coarsely grated (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups water
2 tablespoons clarified butter, divided
3 pounds onions, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and drained
2 tablespoons turbinado or other raw sugar
1 teaspoon ground Ceylon cinnamon
3 pita or Indian naan breads
1 tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish
1. One or 2 days before you plan to serve, trim the lamb of excess fat. Place the meat in a medium flameproof casserole and add 1 teaspoon salt, the spice mixture, saffron water, honey, grated onion and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Stir over low heat until the aroma of the spices is released, about 5 minutes: Do not brown the meat. Add the water, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is almost falling off the bone.
2. Separate the cooking juices and the meat. When the meat is cool enough to handle, pull out and discard the bones and trim off any fat or gristle. Cut the meat into 1-inch chunks and transfer to a storage bowl; you should have about 4 cups of meat. Degrease the cooking juices. Return the cooking juices to the casserole and boil down to a glaze. Add one-half teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of the butter, the sliced onions and cinnamon stick; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden, about 45 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onions to a storage dish. Discard the cinnamon stick. Boil down the liquid in the casserole to about three-fourths cup. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat, then add the liquid to the meat. Up to this point the recipe can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Cool, cover and refrigerate the meat and onions.
3. About an hour before serving, set an oven rack on the middle shelf of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Grease an ovenproof tagine or shallow baking serving dish with remaining butter. Spread the meat on the bottom and cover with the cooked onions and raisins. Scatter the sugar and ground cinnamon on top. Place in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Switch the oven heat to broil, dribble over the remaining tablespoon of oil, and cook until crusty and lightly charred, about 5 minutes.
5. Reheat the bread in the oven for a few minutes. Split in half, then tear each half into 2 or 3 pieces. Spread about one third over a large serving platter. Spoon about half of the contents of the tagine on top. Repeat with another third of the bread and the remaining contents of the tagine. Top with the last pieces of the bread and a sprinkling of parsley and serve at once.
Each serving: 705 calories; 40 grams protein; 60 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 34 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 138 mg cholesterol; 27 grams sugar; 860 mg sodium.