The Palace Restaurant was vacant for several years before Joseph Wrede's Craigslist search landed him in the kitchen of the Santa Fe haunt. The interior, known in the 1960s for its vibrant red wallpaper, maintains a "bordello feel, much like a military officer's gambling club," according to Wrede. These days, the menu at the Palace is equally playful. Wrede's recipe for lamb banana curry pairs savory lamb with sweet bananas. The resulting dish is a fresh variation on everyday ingredients that's worth taking a gamble on.
Lamb Banana Curry
Recipe adapted from Joseph Wrede, The Palace Restaurant, Santa Fe, NM
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
¼ cup sweet yellow curry powder
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger (about 1½-inch piece of ginger)
4 cloves finely chopped garlic
2½ pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 bananas, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 cup dry red wine
6 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked jasmine rice, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Place a small skillet over medium heat and add the curry powder. Toast for 1½ minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the curry powder from the heat and set aside.
2. Place a large braising pan over high heat and add the olive oil, moving the pan around so the oil coats the bottom of the pan. Add the onion and stir for 3 minutes, then lower the flame to medium and add the garlic and ginger, stirring until the garlic begins to brown, another 3 minutes. Add the lamb shoulder and the banana slices and stir to combine. Add the cumin, coriander and toasted curry powder and stir until the pan's contents are aromatic, about 4 minutes.
3. Increase the temperature under the braising pan to high heat; add the red wine and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, cover and remove from the stovetop. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 2 hours and 15 minutes, until the lamb is tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot over the jasmine rice.