Inspired by Italian lamb stews, this lamb and millet pilaf features fluffy millet and bold lamb combined with peas, carrot and tomatoes. This is real food at your dinner table at its best. It’s great served on its own as an entree or as a hearty side dish.
What is a Pilaf?
Pilaf is a main or side dish made with rice that’s quickly sautéed and then cooked in flavorful broth. When I think of a pilaf, I think of Middle Eastern, Turkish and Greek cuisines with their bold flavors and melt-in-your-mouth textures. I haven’t really researched the history of pilaf but I assume it found its way to Europe, where I discovered it, through these cultures.
I grew up eating traditional pilaf; the one made with rice and this lamb and millet pilaf is a result of a happy accident. You see, as I set myself to make a pilaf, and as I sautéed my aromatics and browned lamb I realized that I didn’t have enough rice to make the pilaf. So, in order to finish the dish and put the dinner on the table and grabbed a bag of millet from my pantry and the rest is history. We fell in love with it just the way we did with sausage and sweet potato quinoa. The pilaf came out fluffy and flavorful and no one missed the rice.
To make the pilaf, I prefer heavy-bottomed pots such as this cast iron dutch oven that heats evenly and slowly.
Lamb and Millet Pilaf
If lamb is not an option, you could make this recipe with beef instead. Beef pairs well with all the ingredients I’ve used in this recipe such as peas, carrots and tomatoes. That almost guarantees a great dish with flavors that marry well. Another lamb dish I would highly recommend is my readers’ favorite 12-minute oven baked lamb chops. You won’t be disappointed.
Should I Use Millet Instead of Rice?
Millet is a whole grain that’s been used for thousands of years. In different parts of the world, it’s used for different dishes from cereals, soups, flour, and porridges, to breads and even cakes. Sadly, in the U.S. it’s been known primarily as a bird and cattle feed but that’s all changing as millet is gaining recognition as a healthy whole grain.
While millet is gluten-free it is also rich in phytic acid, like a lot of other grains and legumes, that may cause digestive issues to some people.
Studies on phytic acid reveal that for some people, the phytic acid in whole grains blocks calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron and copper; others seem immune to these adverse consequences, probably because of favorable gut flora, which in some cases can break down phytic acid. In addition, when animal fats providing vitamins A and D accompany dietary whole grains, the effects of physic acid are mitigated. (Source: Ramiel Nagel/WAPF)
Grains, even whole grains, are a hot topic these days. Do you eat them or not? In my opinion, this is a very individual and personal decision. If grains bother you in any way, I would avoid them. If they don’t bother you, I’d make sure to prepare them properly and enjoy them as a part of your diet.
I believe that organic, soaked, sprouted, and stone ground whole grains and flours compliment our diet like they did those of our ancestors, especially if we make sure to combine them with good fats.
Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enid, PhD say that: The final indignity to grains is that we treat them as loners, largely ignorant of other dietary factors needed for the nutrients they provide. Fat-soluble vitamins A and D found in animal fats like butter, lard and cream help us absorb calcium, phosphorus, iron, B vitamins and the many other vitamins that grains provide. Porridge eaten with cream will do us a thousand times more good than cold breakfast cereal consumed with skim milk; sourdough whole grain bread with butter or whole cheese is a combination that contributes to optimal health.
Lamb and Millet Pilaf
Inspired by Italian lamb stews, this lamb and millet pilaf features fluffy millet and bold lamb combined with peas, carrot and tomatoes.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 medium carrot diced or sliced
- 1 stalk of celery diced
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 2 teaspoons sea salt coarse
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup millet
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 4 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup grape tomatoes chopped
- 1 cup green peas
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add carrot and celery and sauté for a few more minutes.
Crumble in the lamb and let it brown, about 10 minutes. Season with sea salt and black pepper then push the aromatics and meat to the side of a pot, creating a well in the middle of it. Pour the millet in the well and toast it for a few minutes. Stir frequently.
Toss in the diced garlic and stir a few times until garlic starts releasing its flavor, about 30 seconds, then pour in the chicken stock.
Add tomatoes and bring to boil. Once the pilaf boils, lower the heat and cover with a lid. Cook for 20 minutes on low heat. Stir in the green peas and fresh thyme, put the lid back on and cook for 10 more minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork. Serve warm.