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Archive for the ‘Lamb’ Category

We’ve been cooking from a new book, Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thompson and Matt Williamson. Every summer we’re usually off camping in a tent in France but not this year unfortunately. Still, we’ve had some amazing Irish sunshine so we’re making a big effort to cook and eat outside as much as possible. These chops were lovely with some flatbreads warmed on the barbecue alongside a herby couscous, and a tomato and cucumber salad.

Wine Suggestion: A barbecue Cotes du Rhone red comes to the rescue here; medium weight with gentle, warming spices. Jean-Paul Daumen’s version in the glass tonight and we can almost picture us sipping this in France.

Lamb Chops with Cumin and Sumac with Tahini Sauce – serves 4

  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 tsp chill flakes/aleppo chilli flakes/urfa chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 lamb cutlets
  • ½ lemon

FOR THE TAHINI SAUCE:

  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a little salt
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • juice of ½ lemon

Mix the garlic, cumin, chilli flakes and half the sumac with the oil in a bowl. Season the chops with salt and pepper, then rub them all over with the spicy oil and put them in the fridge. You need to leave them for at least half an hour or longer if you can. Bring them back to room temperature before cooking.

To make the sauce, put the garlic and tahini in a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and a splash of cold water, you want a smooth sauce with the consistency of double cream. Season to taste.

Heat a barbecue until very hot and cook the chops for a few minutes on each side or until nicely charred on the outside and however you like them in the middle. Grill the lemon half at the same time. Allow the chops to rest off the heat for a few minutes, then serve drizzled with the tahini and sprinkled with the rest of the sumac and a good squeeze of the barbecued lemon.

(Original crecipe from Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thompson & Matt Williamson,

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This is a classic for a reason and you really shouldn’t wait until St Patrick’s day to make it; although for some reason that’s what we do every year. It’s a meal in a bowl but if you want to go all out you can serve it with colcannon and turnip mash with bacon and onions. Beware… we kept on taking seconds … and thirds…

Wine Suggestion: The Irish have a great affinity with Spanish wine, so we picked a Mencia from Bierzo, the Dominio de Tares “Baltos” which was full of flavour as well as vibrantly fresh with resolved and mildly spice tannins.

Irish Stew – serves 6 to 8

  • 900g boneless lamb neck or shoulder, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 900ml lamb or chicken stock, home-made preferably
  • 50g pearl barley, washed
  • 225g potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 225g carrots, thickly sliced
  • 225g leeks, well trimmed and thickly sliced
  • 225g pearl onions, peeled (if you can’t get these you can use halved shallots)
  • 100g smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley to garnish

Put the lamb pieces into a large flameproof casserole and pour over the stock.

Bring to the boil, then skim off any scum from the surface and stir in the barley. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 50 minutes, until slightly reduced and the lamb should be almost tender.

Add the potatoes, carrots, leeks, pearl onions, smoked bacon and thyme and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lamb and vegetables are completely tender but not falling apart. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Scatter the parsley over the top and serve.

(Original recipe from Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook, Gill Books, 2016.)

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Who knew this was a thing? The ragu is made from whole lamb neck fillets which are cooked in a low oven for many hours and then shredded into the sauce. The result is absolutely delicious and much less laborious than our traditional version. You can make the lamb layer well in advance and keep it in the fridge or freezer until needed.

Wine Suggestion: to match the rich lamb and cheese we opened a Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas from the Douro. We’d kept this a few years from release and the layers of gentle spices had grown, the tannins softened to a back note, and the fruit had somehow got richer without adding any weight. A beautiful wine and an equitable accompaniment to a dish like this.

Braised lamb lasagne – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • lamb neck fillets, about 400g in total
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 500g carton passata
  • 500ml full-fat milk
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 70g Parmesan, grated
  • 6 lasagne sheets
  • 2 mozzarella balls, torn into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • dressed salad and garlic bread to serve

Heat the oven to 130C/110C fan/gas 1.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based casserole, season the lamb generously, then fry until well browned all over, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute, then pour over the passata. Rinse out the carton with a splash of water and add this too. Season again, then cover tightly with foil, followed by the lid. Cook in the oven for at least 3½ or up to 4 hours by which time is should be very easy to shred. Leave it to cool a bit, then use a couple of forks to shred the lamb into the sauce.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until just simmering. Melt the butter in another saucepan, then stir in the flour to form a paste. Gradually whisk in the hot milk until you have a smooth glossy sauce. Stir in half the Parmesan and season.

Meanwhile, soak the lasagne sheets in just-boiled water to soften, then drain.

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Spread a thin layer of lamb sauce on the bottom of a small lasagne dish (it should fit two lasagne sheets without overlapping). Top with two lasagne sheets, then cover with a third of the béchamel and a third of the mozzarella. Add half of the remaining lamb sauce, then top this with 2 lasagne sheets and another third of the béchamel and mozzarella. Repeat once more, then sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan and the panko breadcrumbs.

Bake for 35 minutes, then turn the oven up to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Bake for another 10 minutes to brown the top, then leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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This was our last feast of 2020, the year that we cooked more than any other. It helped us to have a shared interest and something to entertain us in the evenings when we couldn’t do anything else. We miss sharing our food with friends and family but we’re hoping it will return before too long. We served this with Muhammara (a roasted red pepper and walnut dip), sumac yoghurt (see below) and a rice dish. You need to start a day ahead and in fact it works well if you cook the whole thing in advance and reheat to serve. 

Wine Suggestion: A gem of a discovery in 2020 after reading an article by Jancis Robinson was the Thymiopoulos, Jeunes Vignes de Xinomavro. A vibrant and exciting red from Náoussa in Greece this grape we’ll be exploring more as we found it had elegance, hints of Mediterranean sunshine and gentle, middle eastern spices.

Pulled lamb shawarma – serves 8

  • 3 onions, 1 roughly chopped and the other 2 cut into wedges
  • 2 heads of garlic, 1 cut in half horizontally, and 8 cloves from the other roughly chopped
  • 25g piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 20g parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1½ tbsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 2-2.5kg lamb shoulder, on the bone
  • 700ml chicken stock
  • ½ a lemon
  • salt and black pepper

FOR THE SUMAC YOGHURT:

  • 200g Greek-style yoghurt
  • 60g tahini
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp sumac

Make the spice paste by putting the chopped onion into a food processor with the chopped garlic and ginger. Pulse until finely minced, then add the parsley and spices. Pulse for another few seconds, until just combined. Scrape down the sides, then add the vinegar, oil, 2¼ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Pulse again to form a coarse paste, then transfer to a non-metallic container that can hold the lamb. 

Pat the lamb dry and pierce all over with a small, sharp knife. Put the lamb into the dish with the spice paste and coat generously in the mixture, so that it is covered on all sides. Cover with foil and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight. 

Take the lamb out of the fridge an hour before you start cooking so it comes to room temperature. 

Preheat the oven to 140C fan. 

Put the onion wedges and the halved garlic bulb into the centre of a large roasting tray and pour over the chicken stock. Sit the lamb on top of the veg, then cover tightly with foil and bake for 4 hours. Remove from the oven, discard the foil and continue to bake for another 90 minutes, increasing the temperature to 160C for the last 30 minutes. The lamb should be very soft and come away easily from the bone. Leave to cool for about 15 minutes, then shred the lamb directly into the pan juices. Transfer the lamb with the pan juices, onions and garlic cloves to a large serving bowl and squeeze over the lemon juice.

To make the sumac yoghurt, put the yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice, 2 tbsp water, the sumac and ¼ tsp of salt into a bowl and whisk well to combine.

Serve the lamb with the yoghurt alongside. We served with a rice dish and a dip but you can also serve with pitta breads, sliced tomatoes, red onions and herbs – a lamb shawarma sandwich.

(Original recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, Ebury Press, 2020.) 

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Turmeric & black pepper braised lamb

This is a whole plateful of deliciousness form Sabrina Ghayour’s new book, Simply. We have loved all of her books but we’ve already cooked more out of this one than any of the others. The recipes are simple but truly delicious. This is great just served with rice.

Wine Suggestion: this dish really suits a velvety, medium bodied red with a few warm spices on the nose: Rioja, or similar made from Tempranillo makes a fine candidate. If you can find a good one and cellar it for a number of years (or be lucky enough to find one in a wine shop with age) then you’ve got your match. A hidden gem that always surprises in it’s value is the Dehesa la Granja from Castilla in Spain. The winemaker usually releases what they consider a Crianza at between 7 to 9 years of age .. and it’s a bargain.

Turmeric & black pepper braised lamb neck – serves 4-6

  • veg oil, for frying
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • 4 big cloves of garlic, bashed and finely sliced
  • 800g lamb neck fillets, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 heaped tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 heaped tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 heaped tsp Maldon sea salt flakes, crushed

Put a large saucepan over a medium-high heat and pour in vegetable oil to coat the base. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes until softened, but not coloured, then add the garlic and cook for another few minutes.

Add the lamb, turmeric and pepper and stir to coat. Make sure the meat is sealed on all sides but you don’t need to brown it.

Add the salt, then pour in boiling water to just cover everything. Put a lid on the pan and cook over a low heat for 2½ hours. Stir occasionally and add more water to keep it barely covered if needed. You want the sauce to thicken and reduce by the end. 30 minutes before the end, taste and season with  more salt if needed.

Serve with rice.

(Original recipe from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2020.)

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Lamb & Mint Samosas

Once you’ve got the hang of making samosas you can do batches and freeze them. Bring them out when friends come around, brush melted butter on and bake … easy. Here you can see a Beetroot & Feta version on the left and Lamb & Mint on the right. We’ve decorated them with different seeds to help tell the difference. Our guests went home wanting to make them for themselves – and they promptly did. No better indorsement we think.

Lamb & Mint Samosas – makes 18-24

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 2 x 270g packs of filo pastry
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • onion seeds (nigella seeds) or sesame seed to garnish, to garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the cumin seeds and fry for a minute. Add the onions and fry for 8-10 minutes, or until golden, then add the garlic and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the lamb mince and break up with a wooden spoon. Fry for 8-10 minutes, then add the cumin, coriander, garam masala, ginger, chilli & salt.

Continue to cook the the mince until starting to brown, then tip into a dish to cool. Add the mint just before you make the samosas.

Lay a sheet of the filo pastry out with the long side towards you (cover the rest of the filo with a damp tea towel). Brush the left hand side of the pastry sheet lightly with the melted butter. Fold the right hand side of the sheet over the left so you have a double layer of pastry. Cut the pastry into 3 long strips with a sharp knife.

Place a heaped tbsp of the lamb mixture at the bottom of a pastry strip, then fold the bottom right hand corner up over the filling to make a small triangle. Flip the triangle over as you move up the pastry strip, the filling will eventually be sealed inside. When you get to the end, brush the end of the pastry strip with a little melted butter and press to seal.

Continue like this until all of the lamb mixture has been used, you might not need all of the filo pastry.

If you want to freeze the samosas at this stage you can set them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, then place in tray in the freezer. When the samosas are frozen you can transfer them to a bag.

If you want to cook the freshly made samosas, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/gas 6. Brush the samosas on both sides with melted butter and sprinkle a few onion seeds or sesame seeds over the top. Put onto a lightly greased baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

To cook from frozen. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/gas 6. Brush both sides with melted butter, sprinkle a few onion or sesame seeds over the top, and put onto a lightly greased baking tray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until crisp and golden.

(Original recipe from Made in India by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2014.)

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Lamb kebabs with cumin & coriander

Delicious Indian kebabs cooked over charcoal. We’ve had an Indian theme going on all week at our house. Serve these with raita and naan breads.

Wine Suggestion: a juicy, easy red with an open texture and something with Syrah/Shiraz and or Grenache strikes a good balance with spices that match the smokey, warmly spiced kebabs. Tonight was the Secateurs Red, a Cinsault Shiraz Grenache blend from Swartland which we’ve not had for a while and I’m not sure why, it was delicious.

Lamb kebabs with cumin & coriander – serves 4

  • 600g lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3½ cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Bash the garlic and ginger in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt to make a paste.

In another bowl mix the oil with the ginger and garlic paste, the spices, 1 tsp of salt and the lemon zest and juice. Pour this marinade over the lamb and mix well.

Thread the lamb onto skewers and barbecue for about 10-12 minutes. Rest for a few minutes before serving.

(Original recipe from Made in India by Meera Sodha, Fig Tree, 2014.)

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BBQ Lamb with Courgettes, Mangetout & Feta Salad

We love this time of year when all the local produce arrives in dribs and drabs. Last week our local farm shop had little courgettes and mangetout – the excitement!

Wine Suggestion: a lighter, youthful red with medium, dry tannins and freshness for the lamb. A young Sangiovese from a good vineyard or good cru Beaujolais come to mind straight away.

BBQ lamb with courgettes, mangetout & feta salad – serves 2

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 4 small lamb chops or cutlets
  • 2 small courgettes, sliced into rounds, about 1cm thick
  • 200g mangetout
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • small handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • small handful basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 25g feta, crumbled

Season the lamb chops all over with black pepper and fine sea salt. Mix a tbsp of the olive oil with the chopped thyme and brush over the lamb.

Heat the barbecue and cook the chops for a few minutes on each side, we don’t mind them rare in the middle but we like them to be well-seared and crispy on the outside. Remove to a plate, and leave to rest, covered in foil.

Brush the courgette with a little oil and season. Cook these on the barbecue (if you have a griddle pan you can set it on the barbecue and cook them on this so they don’t fall through the bars). You might need a couple of batches.

Meanwhile, cook the mangetout for a couple of minutes in boiling salty water, then drain and tip into a large bowl with the courgettes.

Mix the vinegar, mustard, chilli flakes, mint & basil together to make a dressing. Toss the veg in the dressing and crumble over the feta to serve. Pile onto plates with the lamb chops.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Lamb Chops with Minty Broad Beans

Our beloved broad beans, one of our absolute favourite vegetables, and they work perfectly with lamb and mint. Double podding seems like a bit of a faff but it’s definitely one of Jules’ favourite kitchen jobs, even better outside in the sunshine.

Wine Suggestion: Domaine Brusset’s Cotes du Rhone Red; mid-weight, open and friendly fruit and gentle spices. The Brusset’s are a lovely family and we’ve not tasted anything from them for a long time so we’re glad to see they’re even better than we remember. We’ll definitely get a few more bottles for the cellar.

Lamb chops with smashed minty broad beans – serves 4

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • a small red chilli
  • 8 small lamb chops

FOR THE BROAD BEANS:

  • 300g podded and skinned broad beans (1.2kg unpodded)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • a handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped

Mix the garlic, lemon and chilli with a splash of olive oil. Put the lamb chops in a dish and pour over the marinade. Cover and marinade for an hour in the fridge. Remove about half an hour before you want to cook them though so they come to room temperature.

Put the broad beans in a processor with half the olive oil, plenty of seasoning and the lemon juice. Whizz to a chunky purée, then tip into a small saucepan.

Cook the lamb on a hot barbecue for a few minutes on each side. Meanwhile, gently heat the broad beans, then stir in the mint and the rest of the olive oil. Check the seasoning, then serve the lamb with the broad beans on the side.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Lamb Siniya

This is a bit like a Middle-Eastern shepherd’s pie but lighter and spicier. It’s also very quick and easy to make. Serve with pickled chillies, a tomato salad and some flatbreads if you like (we had pickled chillies alone and it was perfect). We can’t recommend the books by Honey & Co highly enough, everything works.

Wine Suggestion: Another lockdown cellar raid unearthed our last bottle of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005 from the famed La Crau vineyard. At a very good point in its develeopment with beautiful, pure red fruits and layers of subtle spicing. Lots of power still but with so much elegance and refinement.

If you don’t have this wine to hand we most successfully match middle eastern dishes containing warm spices with southern Rhône and other Grenache dominant Mediterranean reds.

Lamb siniya – serves 4 to 6

  • 1 small cauliflower, broken into florets

FOR THE LAMB:

  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp baharat spice mix
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée

FOR THE TOPPING:

  • 200g natural yoghurt
  • 200g tahini paste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts

1 tbsp chopped parsley, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Put the cauliflower into a large saucepan, add about a litre of water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until soft. Drain and spread over the base of a shallow casserole dish (about 22cm).

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions with half a teaspoon of salt until starting to turn golden. Add the lamb mince, turn the heat up to hight and break it up with a wooden spoon. When the lamb starts to brown, sprinkle over the ground fennel and baharat spice and continue to cook for another few minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and cook, stirring, for another few minutes, then spread over the cauliflower. You can do up to this stage a day in advance if you like.

Mix all the ingredients together for the topping, except the pine nuts. If the mixture is very thick you can add a tablespoon or two of water to loosen it slightly – it should be like thick yoghurt. Spread the topping over the cauliflower and lamb, then sprinkle the pine nuts over the top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes or until set and slightly golden. Sprinkle with the parsley to serve.

(Original recipe from Honey & Co: Food from the Middle East by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich, Saltyard Books, 2014.)

 

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Lamb Shank Balti

The only thing missing from this dish was a crowd to share it with, but we’ll keep it in our back pockets for when that can happen again. If, like us, you make for a small dinner party, you can pull the leftover meat off the bone and stir it into the sauce. This allows you to have some tomorrow, or stash some in the freezer for another day. Serve with rice and your choice of naan bread, Indian chutneys or pickles and yoghurt or raita.

You need to marinate the meat the night before – literally 3 minutes work! And if you marinate in an oven tray, which we recommend, then take out of the fridge an hour before cooking to come up to room temperature.

Wine Suggestion: A rich and warm, spiced dish like this needs a similar kind of wine. A red from a warmer climate is our choice and tonight it was the Finca Bacara Pirapu; a Monastrell-Syrah blend from Jumilla in Spain. Juicy, and with a warm, earthy spice of it’s own. The high levels of juicy, soft tannins help with the rich meat. We’ll get this wine again for when we are entertaining properly and cooking this dish as it was a delight.

Lamb shank balti – serves 5 to 6

  • 5-6 lamb shanks
  • 3-4 onions, halved and sliced
  • 100g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 6 tbsp balti paste (we used Patak’s)
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 4tsp brown sugar
  • a handful of pomegranate seeds
  • a handful of coriander leaves

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 2 tbsp balti paste
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp kalonji seeds (nigella or onion seeds)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

The day before, mix the ingredients together for the marinade. Put the lamb shanks in a roasting tin and rub the marinade all over them (you might want to wear disposable gloves if you want to avoid yellow hands). Cover and chill overnight.

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Roast the lamb for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160C/140C fan/gas 3.

Cover the tray with a double layer of tin foil and scrunch tightly around the edges to make sure it’s sealed. Return to the oven and cook for another 3 hours.

Remove the foil and stir the onions into the juices in the tin, then return to the oven and cook, uncovered, for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic, 1 tin of the tomatoes, balti paste, garam masala and sugar into a food processor of blender. Whizz until smoothish. Stir this paste into the onions and also add the second tin of tomatoes and put back in the oven for a final 30 minutes.

Serve with the pomegranate seeds and coriander scattered over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

 

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Greek Lamb with Orzo

A treat for the weekend without too many ingredients. There is also just a tiny bit of work at the start and then this can be left to pretty much cook itself for a few hours. You can serve with crusty bread or just by itself.

Wine Suggestion: we think that a southern French blend like Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre is a really good combination as long as the wine is fresh and not too jammy. Tonight we enjoyed the Domaine de Cébène Faugeres “Felgaria” which had a majority of Mourvedre and was pure, elegant and expressive with spices and warm aromas.

Greek lamb with orzo – serves 6

  • 1kg shoulder of lamb, cut into large cubes
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1.2 litres hot chicken or veg stock
  • 400g orzo
  • freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Put the lamb into a large casserole dish with the onions, oregano, ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks and olive oil. Toss with your hands to ensure everything is coated with oil. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Add the tomatoes and stock, then cover and return to the oven for a further 1½ hours or until the lamb is meltingly tender. You can throw away the cinnamon sticks at this point.

Stir in the orzo and return to the oven again, with the lid on. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until the orzo is cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Middle Eastern Shepherd's Pie with Spiced Parsnip Crust

Diana Henry’s book, Food from Plenty, is great for recipes that use leftovers. For this one we used a large amount of leftover lamb shoulder that had been roasted for hours on the bone in a spicy marinade. The leftover lamb was tasty as it was but was totally transformed in this recipe – super spicy and delicious! Don’t be tempted to skip the spicy onion topping.

Wine Suggestion: a medium bodied, juicy and youthful red with not too many tannins. Luigi Pira’s Barbera d’Alba was perfect, as was a quirky, earthy Poulsard from Stephane Tissot from the Arbois in eastern France … we had a few people over, so could try a few different wines which was fun.

Middle Eastern shepherd’s pie with spiced parsnip crust – serves 6

FOR THE MEAT:

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 800g leftover cooked lamb, cut into small chunks
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 300ml chicken stock or lamb stock
  • grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 75g raisins, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained
  • 6 tbsp tomato purée
  • 75g pine nuts, toasted

FOR THE PARSNIP CRUST:

  • 450g floury potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 950g parsnips, chopped
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper (this will make a very spicy mash so use less if you like)
  • 50ml whipping cream

FOR THE SPICED ONION TOPPING:

  • 2 onions, very finely sliced
  • 15g butter
  • 1½ tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 3 tsp soft dark brown sugar
  • good squeeze of lemon juice
  • a small bunch of coriander or mint, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large casserole and brown the lamb, then scoop the lamb out and set aside.

Add the onions, celery and carrots to the same pan and cook until golden. Add the garlic and spices and continue to cook for another minute. Return the lamb to the pan and add the flour. Stir for a minute, then add the stock, zest, juice, raisins and tomato purée. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 45 minutes. You will need to keep stirring now and then to prevent the mixture from sticking. It should be thick but if it looks dry add a little more stock. Add the pine nuts.

Boil the potatoes and parsnips separately until soft. Drain the potatoes, then cover with a tea towel and  lid and allow to dry out over a low heat. Drain the parsnips and add to the potatoes. Heat the butter for the crust in a large saucepan with the spices. Add the potatoes and parsnips and mash, then add the cream and season to taste.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Spoon the lamb into a large pie dish, spread the mash on top and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Meanwhile, fry the onions for the topping in the butter and oil until golden. Turn up the heat and keep cooking until starting to crisp. Add the cinnamon, chilli, salt, some salt & pepper, and sugar. Cook until slightly caramelised, then squeeze over the lemon juice and mix in the herbs. Pile the onions on top of the pie to serve.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2011.)

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Chilli and Garlic Kebab - Kabab Khashkhash

We’ve had The Aleppo Cookbook for ages and for some reason haven’t cooked too much out of it. It’s really dense with recipes and not so many photos – not that photos are essential, but they’re definitely helpful when flicking for inspiration. Anyhow, we took this book out a few weeks ago, determined to cook something, and chose these little kebabs for the barbecue. They were stunning! We served with spicy roast potatoes and salad but they would also be great as a starter with some sort of yoghurty dip.

Wine Suggestion: we love how these go so well with a good Tempranillo, a grape that flatters lamb and with a deft touch in the winery gives wonderful, complementary spices that work superbly with the warm spices of the Levant. For a bit of sophisticated elegance we had a glass of the Cantos de Valpiedra Rioja which is silky, smooth and refined.

Chilli and garlic kebab – Kabab Khashkhash – makes 10 skewers

  • 450g lamb mince
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1-2 hot red chillies, seeds removed and chopped
  • 15g finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp Aleppo pepper or paprika (do try and find Aleppo pepper)
  • 1 tbsp Aleppo spice mix or seven-spice powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp salt, or to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well – hands are good for this. Transfer to a clean surface and knead for 30 seconds as you would bread dough.

Moisten your hands with water, then divide the meat into 10 prune-sized portions and form into balls.

Insert a wide, flat metal skewer through the middle of each meatball; then form the meat around the skewer to a length of about 14cm (similar to the picture above). Suspend the finished kebab over a deep baking dish resting the skewers on the sides.

Preheat a barbecue (preferably charcoal)and grill the kebabs until cooked how you like them.

(Original recipe from The Aleppo Cookbook by Marlene Matar, Head of Zeus, 2017.)

Chilli and Garlic Kebab

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Braised Lamb with Spring VegetablesA great dish for when you want to eat spring food but it’s chilly outside. Leftovers taste great the next day too. Serve with new potatoes.

Wine Suggestion: This works superbly with Syrah and if you’d like to taste something different then the Insolgio del Cinghiale from Tenuta Biserno which is a Syrah, Cabernet Franc blend from the Maremma in Italy is well worth finding. A wine that shows a new side to Syrah and that Italy also has some superb sites for this grape, especially in a blend.

Braised lamb with spring vegetables – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 600g lamb neck fillet, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3cm pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 baby leeks, sliced
  • 4 shallots, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 700ml lamb stock or chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 150g Chantenay carrots, halved lengthways if large
  • 100g fine green beans, halved
  • 150g fresh or frozen peas
  • 150g fresh or frozen broad beans
  • new potatoes, to serve

Put the flour into a large freezer bag and season well with salt and pepper. Add the lamb pieces to the bag and shake to coat in the flour. Tip the lamb out into a sieve to get rid of excess flour.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a flameproof casserole over a medium heat. Brown the meat in batches, then remove with a slotted spoon onto some kitchen paper.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the casserole and add the leeks, shallots, and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.

Return the meat to the casserole and add the stock, bay leaf, rosemary, and lemon zest. Season well and bring to a simmer, skim off any scum, then cover and simmer gently for 1½ hours.

Add the carrots, return to the boil, then simmer gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes to reduce the sauce. Add the green bean, peas, and baby broad beans. Return to the boil and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Remove the rosemary and bay leaf and serve with new potatoes.

(Original recipe from Family Kitchen Cookbook by Caroline Bretherton, DK, 2013.)

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Lamb Ragoût

Lamb ragoût with fresh pasta

This lamb ragoût really reminds of holidays in Italy. Really simple but with a great concentrated flavour. No doubt it would be fab with some freshly made pappardelle, but dried was all we could muster on this occasion.

Wine Suggestion: While a red is often the first thought when matching a Ragoût, an oaked white would also work just as well with this dish. The Zuani Riserva from Collio in north eastern Italy would be a good choice. Delicately toasty with vanilla and touch of tropical fruit and some creamy, ripe stone-fruits. Broad and rich, creamy, thick fruit texture, peach and yellow plum with a long and gently spicy finish.

However if you feel like red, like Jules did tonight, then an elegant Sangiovese makes a good option and the Selvapiana Bucerchiale Chianti Rufina is a favourite of ours. Always superb.

Lamb Ragoût – serves 4 to 6

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1kg lamb shoulder, cut into small dice
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 125ml white wine
  • 500ml lamb stock
  • fresh or dried pappardelle pasta
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
  • grated Parmesan, to serve

Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, add the onions, celery and carrot and sweat until translucent. Add the garlic, baby leaves and thyme. Add the lamb and season well with salt and pepper, sweat, then add the tomato purée.

Cook for a few minutes, then deglaze with the wine. Add the lamb stock and simmer for 3 hours, covered, until reduced – add more stock or water if it becomes too dry.

Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and stir into the ragoût with the parsley and Parmesan.

(Original recipe from The Skills by Monica Galetti, Quadrille, 2016.)

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Spiced Lamb Hotpot

We love this spiced hotpot from Sabrina Ghayour’s fabulous book, Feasts. All the work is done at the start, and isn’t particularly onerous, so it’s a great dish for guests and the house smells good when they arrive. We served with big dishes of cauliflower cheese and greens.

Wine suggestion: You need a red with some guts to stand up to these flavours, but don’t go OTT as it also requires subtlety and finess too. Our friend Miriam had found a 9 yo Bordeaux made from 100% merlot in her cellar and we’re glad she shared it with us.

Spiced Lamb Hotpot – serves 4-6

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 6 cardamom pods, lightly cracked
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 900g diced leg of lamb
  • 1 large garlic bulb, cloves peeled and left whole
  • 8 shallots, peeled and left whole
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp English mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 500ml chicken, lamb or vegetable stock
  • 700-750g red potatoes, unpeeled, thinly sliced – a mandolin is good for this
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • sprinkling of thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/Gas 3½.

Heat a large flameproof casserole over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cardamom pods to the hot pan and dry-toast for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they smell aromatic.

Pour in oil to coat the base of the pan. When the oil is heated, add the onions and fry for 6-8 minutes, or until softened and starting to brown at the edges. Add the meat and cook for a few minutes, stirring to coat in the cumin seeds. Add the garlic cloves, shallots and carrots and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the ground cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, mustard powder and flour. Season with salt and pepper and mix well before adding the stock.

Arrange the potato slices on top of the meat, slightly overlapping them. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle with the thyme and season again. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven for 1½ hours.

Remove the hotpot from the oven and take off the lid. Turn the oven up to 220C/200C fan/Gas 7.

Put the casserole back into the oven and cook for another 30-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown.

(Original recipe from Feasts by Sabrina Ghayour, Mitchell Beazley, 2017.)

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Mughlai Lamb with Turnips - Shabdeg

Our local supermarket has perfect sweet turnips with purple and white skin and green tops so when flicking through Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking we just couldn’t go past this unusual lamb curry. The cooking method goes against many of our instincts but, not wanting to mess with Madhur Jaffrey, we followed the instructions to the letter and the result was amazing! Great with steamed rice or serve with Mushroom Pullao, Spicy Green Beans and Yoghurt with Walnuts and Coriander for a fabulous Indian feast.

Wine Suggestion: We like many struggle to match Indian food with wine. Tonight we had a clean lager which fitted the bill for us, though some more adventurous beers would be good too.

Mughlai Lamb with Turnips  (Shabdeg) – serves 6

  • 10 small turnips, weighing 750g when the leaves and stems have been removed (halve the turnips if they are larger)
  • 5 medium onions, peeled
  • 8 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1kg stewing lamb shoulder cut into 4cm cubes (include some bones if you have them)
  • 285ml plain yoghurt
  • 2.5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2.25 litres water
  • ½ tsp garam masala

Peel the turnips and prick them all over with a fork. Put them in a bowl and rub with ¾ tsp of salt, then set aside for 1½-2 hours.

Cut the onions in half, lengthwise, and then across into very thin slices.

Heat the oil in a large, wide, and preferably non-stick pot over a medium-high heat. When hot, stir and fry the onions for about 12 minutes or until they are reddish brown in colour (this took longer than 12 minutes on our hob). Remove the onions with a slotted spoon, squeezing out and leaving behind as much oil as you can. Spread the onions out on a plate.

Add the meat, yoghurt, ginger and 1 tsp of salt to the pot. Stir and bring to a boil, then turn the heat up to high. You should have lots of fairly thin sauce. Cook on a high heat, stirring now and then, for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is fairly thick and you just begin to see the oil (be patient as we cooked for more like 20 minutes to get to this point). Turn the heat down to medium-high and keep stirring and frying for another 5-7 minutes or until the meat is lightly brown and the sauce has disappeared. Turn the heat to medium-low, then add the turmeric, cayenne, and coriander. Stir for a minute.

Add the water and 1tsp of salt. Drain the turnips and add them to the pot. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes or until you have less than a third of the liquid left (this stage took closer to an hour for us). Stir the pot occasionally as it cooks.

Return the browned onions to the pan and add the garam masala. Stir gently to mix and turn the heat to low. Cook gently, uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Stir it now and then but be careful not to break up the turnips.

Spoon off the fat that floats to the top and serve hot with rice and other Indian dishes (see above).

(Original recipe from Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey, Baron’s Educational Series, 2002.)

 

 

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Crispy Chickpeas & Lamb with greens and garlic yoghurt

We made this Alison Roman dish because we had Rainbow Chard kindly given to us and as often happens, we discovered a gem. Crispy lamb and chickpeas – a divine combination!

Wine Suggestion: we think this goes with more serious Gamay: one of the Beaujolais Cru’s, like Moulin au Vent, Brouilly or Morgon. It needs good fruit, depth to the tannins, earthiness and freshness, without crunchy acidity.

Crispy chickpeas and lamb with greens & garlicky yoghurt – serves 4

FOR THE GARLICKY YOGHURT:

  • 240ml full-fat or 2% Greek yoghurt
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

FOR THE CHICKPEAS & LAMB:

  • 1 large or 2 small bunches of Swiss chard or kale
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 350g lamb mince
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Tomatoes, quartered – to serve

To make the garlic yoghurt combine the yoghurt, garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl and season with salt and black pepper.

Separate the leaves and stems from the greens, then slice the stems and roughly tear the leaves.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the lamb, garlic and cumin and season with salt and black pepper.

Break up the lamb as it cooks until brown and crispy – about 8-10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb to a bowl.

Add the rest of the oil, the chickpeas and red pepper flakes to the frying pan and season. Cook until the chickpeas are well browned and starting to crisp up – about 8-10 minutes. Return the lamb to the pan and toss together. Transfer to a large serving dish.

Add the chopped stems to the frying pan with some seasoning. Cook for a couple of minutes to soften slightly, then add the leaves and toss until wilted – about 30 seconds. Season again if needed.

Smear the yoghurt over the bottom of plates or bowls and top with the chickpeas and lamb, the sautéed greens and the tomatoes.

(Original recipe from Dining In by Alison Roman, Clarkson Potter, 2017.)

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Lamb & saffron tagine

We tend to avoid hot dishes like this in the summer time which is a bit silly really as they eat tagine all year round in Morocco which is usually hotter than Dublin whatever the time of year. Marinate the lamb up to 48 hours in advance, if you can, to maximise the flavour. Serve with herby couscous or bread.

Wine Suggestion: It was a hot day when we made this dish so we took inspiration from Spanish winemakers and chilled a red wine for 30 minutes and were delighted we did. Our choice was Massaya’s le Colombier from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, a wine we find naturally pairs with Middle Eastern, North African and Spanish cuisine effortlessly. This is a winery really on the up and we think each new vintage is better than the last.

Lamb & Saffron Tagine – serves 6

  • 1.8kg diced neck or shoulder of lamb
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 800ml passata or tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp saffron strands, soaked in 1 tbsp of warm water
  • 200g dried dates, halved
  • 100g golden sultanas
  • 75g chopped pistachios

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the lamb and mix until coated. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight or for up to 48 hours.

Heat the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.

Put a large casserole over a medium heat with 1 tbsp of oil. Sauté the onions for about 10 minutes or until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic and ginger for the last 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan and put over a high heat. Add the lamb and brown all over.

Pour half of the stock into the lamb pan to deglaze then transfer everything to the casserole with the onions.

Add the passata or tomatoes, the rest of the stock, saffron and soaking liquid, dates, sultanas and most of the pistachios. Season with salt and black pepper.

Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender and the sauce thickened. Serve sprinkled with chopped mint and the rest of the pistachios.

(Original recipe from ‘Marcus at Home’ by Marcus Wareing, HarperCollins, 2016.)

 

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