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Nine dishes inspired by the 2013 Best Picture nominees

The Academy Awards are right around the corner! What better way to cheer on the Best Picture nominees than by cooking a dish inspired by your favorite film? 

'Argo:' Lamb stew with dried plums

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    Moroccan-inspired spices of cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and fresh mint complete the flavor profile in this decadent, slow-cooked lamb stew with prunes golden raisins, dried apricots, and sweet potatoes.
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Dried, stewed fruits and meat is a winning combination and typical of Iranian and Persian dishes. We think the cast of "Argo" could have used a good, comforting bowl of this before they planned their escape.

By Amy DelineThe Gourmand Mom 

2 2-1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, well-trimmed of exterior fat and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/4 cup flour

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups chicken stock

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup dried plums (prunes), diced

1/4 cup dried apricots, diced

1/4 cup golden raisins

6 fresh mint leaves, chiffonade *

*Click here to Amy Deline's photo guide on how to chiffonade.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Toss the lamb in the flour. In a large dutch oven pan (or oven-safe stock pot with a tight fitting lid), heat olive oil over medium/medium-high heat. Add the lamb to the pan in a single layer and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. (Cook in batches, if necessary. Do not overcrowd the pan.)

Remove the lamb from the pan and set aside. Reduce heat to medium. Add the carrots and onions to the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until tender and golden.

Sprinkle the cinnamon, cumin, ginger, salt and pepper over the carrots and onions. Stir to coat. Cook for one more minute. Then, return the lamb to the pan.

Add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover and place the pan on the middle oven rack. Cook for 1-1/2 hours, then add the sweet potatoes and dried fruits.

Cook for 20-25 minutes more, until sweet potatoes are tender, but not mushy.

Finally, stir in the fresh mint. (If the sauce is thicker than desired, use additional chicken stock or water to thin it out.) Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired.

Serve over hot buttered noodles or with crusty bread.

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