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This recipe comes from Chasing Smoke by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co. in London. This is hands-down the best hummus we’ve ever made (and we’ve made lots) and the crispy lamb belly (poached then finished over charcoal) is fatty but fabulous. It’s good with a simple salad (we went for cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions & Baby gem dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and sumac) and lots of warm pittas. You need to soak the chickpeas the night before.

Wine Suggestion: Anything with a hint of middle-eastern spices or warm sunshine. A Garnacha, or maybe a Tempranillo. Tonight the classic Massaya le Colombier from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon. A lot has happened in this part of the world and we’re glad to support the friends we’ve met still trying to make great wine despite all the challenges. Well done Sami and Ramzi, bravo!

Crispy lamb on creamy hummus – serves 4 (generously)

FOR THE LAMB:

  • 1 lamb breast on the bone, about 1.5kg
  • 1 tbsp table salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 1 litre of water

FOR THE HUMMUS:

  • 200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in lots of water
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 250g tahini paste
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

TO SERVE:

  • a small handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp biber chilli flakes (or Allepo)
  • pitta breads
  • salad (see suggestion above

Rub the lamb all over with the salt, cumin seeds and peppercorns, then leave in the fridge for a couple of hours. Put the lamb in a large pan with the onions and water. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer slowly for about 1½ hours.

Make the hummus while the lamb is cooking. Drain the soaked chickpeas, then place in large saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil and skim off the foam. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then skim again.

Add the bicarbonate of soda and mix well. Skim it really well this time then simmer for 30-40 minutes, skimming regularly, until the chickpeas are very soft – they should melt in your mouth.

Drain the chickpeas into a colander over a bowl so you can reserve the cooking liquid. You need to finish the hummus now while everything is still hot. Pour 250ml of the cooking liquid over the chickpeas and add the garlic. Now whizz using a stick blender or food processor until really smooth. It will be pretty thick at this stage but not to worry.

Add the salt, tahini, cumin and lemon juice and whizz again until well combined. Give it a taste and add more salt or lemon juice if you like. Cover the surface with cling film to stop a skin forming and set aside. It will be quite liquid but it will thicken as it cools.

Lift the lamb out of the cooking water, keep a few spoonfuls of liquid for serving. The meat should be completely soft and easy to pull from the bones. Carefully (so it doesn’t fall apart altogether) lift it onto a hot charcoal barbecue and cook for about 10 minutes. Turn it over and cook for 10 minutes on the other side. You need to do this over indirect heat or it will burn or catch fire as there is a lot of fat.

To cook over indirect heat pile the charcoal to one side and with the lid on cook the meat on the other side. Despite no direct flames underneath the meat cooks a treat – slower, but no less effectively.

Take the cooked meat off onto a chopping board and shred it with two forks – like crispy duck.

Spread the hummus on a serving platter and top with the lamb and a drizzle of the cooking liquid. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and chilli flakes and serve with lots of pitta and a salad if you like.

(Original recipe from Chasing Smoke: Cooking over fire around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2021.)

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Barbecued watermelon is a revelation for us as it really intensifies the flavour. This combination with prawns, feta and chilli is total winner! Serve as a starter at your next barbecue. Another fab idea from Chasing Smoke.

Wine Suggestion: This dish has a real affinity with a juicy, youthful Grenache, be it a Rosé or a lightly chilled red like tonight’s Rubus by Jesus Romero. Made at 1000m above sea-level in the rural, far south of Aragon, Spain this is all cherry, blackberry and spice; seriously gluggable.

Grilled watermelon and prawns with feta & chilli – serves 4

  • 12 whole prawns in the shells (buy 16 if they’re small)
  • 2 thick slices from a large watermelon
  • 1 red chilli, sliced into rings (if you cut of the stalk and rub the chilli between your hands the seeds will fall out)
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 250g feta
  • a small bunch of mint, leave half the leaves whole and chop the rest
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus a bit extra for brushing
  • 1 tsp roughly crushed black pepper

Take a small pointy knife and cut and cut down the back of each prawn, when you see the digestive string gently pull it out with the tip of the knife. Leave the prawns in a bowl in the fridge until ready to cook.

Cut the watermelon into 8 large wedges, leaving the skin on.

Mix the chilli slices with the vinegar and salt and set aside.

Light your barbecue and get it up to a high heat.

Brush the watermelon with some olive oil, then put on the hottest part of the barbecue for 1-2 minutes on each side or until charred. Remove to a platter, then grill the prawns for a 2-3 minutes on each side, depending how big they are.

Add the prawns to the watermelon, crumble over the feta, then scatter with the mint leaves.

Stir the olive oil, black pepper and chopped mint into the marinating chilli and drizzle over the platter.

(Original recipe from Chasing Smoke: Cooking Over Fire Aroudn the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2021.)

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This recipe is from Chasing Smoke: Cooking Over Fire Around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich. They have memories of cooking potatoes in bonfires as children and how delicious they tasted. They really are delicious and if you’ve made the effort to light your barbecue you may as well throw a few potatoes in the embers too.

Baked potatoes with charred spring onion sour cream – serves 4

  • 4 baking potatoes, about 250g each

FOR THE SOUR CREAM DRESSING:

  • 8-10 scallions
  • 300g sour cream
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp flaky sea salt
  • black pepper
  • zest and juice of half a lemon

Wrap each potato in tin foil and place in the embers of your barbecue or campfire. Leave there for about 45 minutes or until a metal skewer goes in easily, turn them over a couple of times as they cook.

Meanwhile, char half the scallions on the grill for a few minutes on each side or until charred. Remove from the heat and finely chop.

Finely slice the green parts of the remaining scallions and set aside to sprinkle over at the end. Cut the remaining white parts into small pieces and stir into the sour cream along with the charred scalllions and the rest of the ingredients.

Remove the cooked potatoes from the fire and remove the foil. Cut each one down the middle and sprinkle with the flaky sea salt and fill with the sour cream mixture. Spinkle over the green scallions and some black pepper before serving.

(Original recipe from Chasing Smoke: Cooking over fire around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, Pavilion, 2021.)

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