Nachos with Braised Lamb, Feta, and Olives
The beauty of nachos is that they don't really require a recipe (chips + cheese + add-ons + heat = done!), but bear with me here. Braising the lamb (low and slow!) gets rid of some of its gamey flavor, and goes perfectly with the sharp feta and mild caselvetrano olives. Herbs go on top, and you're set!
You can definitely use something other than lamb if it's not your thing. Chicken would be the best replacement! For a vegetarian version, beans are the best stand-in if you're looking for protein. Chickpeas, cannellini, or black beans would all suffice!
The quantity of lamb you'll end up with is more than you need for the nachos, but it's easy to use in other dishes. Make an easily thrown together thing like tacos, an omelet, a salad, or a sandwich.
Braised lamb loosely modeled after Serious Eats' Oven-Cooked Pulled Lamb
2 pounds lamb shoulder (you'll have some left over, but it's hard to buy lamb shoulder in smaller sizes)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fennel
1/2 teaspoon sumac
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 date, pitted and finely chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon molasses
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups shredded braised lamb
1 13-ounce bag yellow tortilla chips (preferably something sturdy and decently salty, like Whole Grain Milling or Garden of Eaten)
8 ounces mild cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup castelvetrano olives, pitted and halved
6 ounces feta, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1 fresno pepper, thinly sliced
1 small (or 1/2 medium) red onion, thinly sliced in half moons
Hot sauce, to taste
Salsa verde, to taste
Fresh cilantro and mint, stemmed and torn
Make the meat
Adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 300°F. In a small bowl, combine salt, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, fennel, sumac, and ground mustard. If lamb is tied up, remove twine and unfurl on a work surface. Season lamb all over with 3 to 4 tablespoons spice mixture, making sure to rub it on all sides. Reserve remaining spice mixture.
Using butcher's twine, tie up lamb shoulder into an even cylinder.
In a small bowl, whisk together tomato paste, dijon, vinegar, and molasses. Stir in 1/4 cup of reserved spice mixture.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add lamb and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove lamb from pan.
Add onion to pot and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until softened, about 2 minutes.
Add sauce mixture and chicken stock to Dutch oven, stirring to blend. Add lamb and turn in sauce to coat all sides. Cover, transfer to oven, and cook until lamb is just starting to turn tender, about 2 hours. Remove lid and continue cooking until a knife or fork shows very little resistance when twisted inside the meat and a dark bark has formed, about 1 hour longer; add a small dose of water if at any point the pot goes dry during the last hour.
Transfer lamb to a large bowl, reserving liquid in pot. When lamb is cool enough to handle, shred with two forks. Add a spoonful or two of liquid from pot, and toss with lamb. Discard rest of liquid mixture.
Heat oven to 375°F. In a 12" cast iron skillet, put a layer of chips and cover with about 1/3 of the toppings (cheddar, olives, feta, fresno, and red onion). Add some hot sauce, to taste. Repeat twice (chips + toppings + chips + toppings). Cook nachos until crispy on top and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.
Top with a few spoonfuls of salsa, cilantro, and mint. Serve immediately!