Dec 21 2009

Lamb Tagine with Chick Peas and Apricots


Last week a friend gave a big birthday party and asked several of us to cook a Lamb Tagine with Chick Peas and Apricots. Our Whiteface lamb was just right for the recipe.
To feed 8 people cut up a kilo of lamb from a shoulder into large cubes removing any fat or sinew. Put the meat in a bowl and add a teaspoon each of ground cumin, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper and paprika. Gently turn the meat over until it is thoroughly coated in the spices. Leave in the fridge or a cool larder for at least two hours to allow the flavours to penetrate.
Chop 2 large shallots, crush 2 cloves of garlic, peel and dice a small butternut squash.
Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a heavy pan and brown the meat in batches. Remove each batch into the Tagine. Soften the shallots, garlic and squash in the remaining oil.
Stir in a tin of chick peas, 500grams of dried apricots. Add to the Tagine with just enough good (homemade) stock to just cover the meat.
Cook gently for 1½ hours until the meat is tender and the sauce thick and reduced. Taste and add salt and pepper; always best to leave the salt until the end of cooking as it has a tendency to toughen even the most tender cuts of meat. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and serve with rice, couscous or Quinoa and a green salad.

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May 21 2007

Navarin Printaniere

Today I will roast a shoulder of our own spring lamb with garlic and rosemary and serve it with young vegetables from the garden. I’ll dig up some potatoes and pick mange tout peas. Or perhaps I’ll take a little more time and pleasure to prepare a traditional Navarin Printaniere This is not a dish for stewing lamb. It calls for tender, lean meat which will cook gently but quite quickly. I prefer to cut up a shoulder or even use a boned out loin.

Take a little time to trim off any fat and sinew before cutting the meat into fairly small pieces.

Melt a large piece of butter and a little oil in a heavy oven proof pan that has a well fitting lid. Incidentally, the oil stops the butter burning and becoming bitter. Brown the meat quickly turning it over with a wooden spoon until sealed. Then take it out and set aside.

Chop a shallot and crush a garlic clove or two. Add to the buttery juices in the pan and, heating gently, allow them to soften slightly. Stir in a spoonful or two of flour scraping up the meat juices and mixing to a thin paste. Gradually add some stock and a little tomato puree.

Return the browned meat. Heat gently, adjust the consistency, which should be creamy, by adding more stock if necessary. Bring slowly to the boil, cover the pan with its lid and place in a moderate oven for about an hour. Test the meat with a skewer to see if it is tender. If not return to the oven for a little longer but don’t over do it.

Meanwhile prepare some young fresh root vegetables; new potatoes, very young turnips and whole baby carrots. Once the meat is tender add these and cook for a scant half hour without the lid. Top and tail some mange-tout or shell some peas and broad beans, slice your first runner beans or harvest the early French beans; use what you have in your garden or what you can find in your local farmers market.

Blanche the vegetables very briefly in plenty of boiling water, drain well and add to the lamb. Heat through, skim off absolutely any remaining fat, (there shouldn’t be much if you took time to trim your meat) taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve on warm plates with hot, crusty bread.

Follow with fresh raspberries and some really good ice cream. despite the rain I have a bumper crop this year,

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May 21 2007

Roast Shoulder of Lamb

Out of the deepfreeze comes a shoulder of lamb which I boned and rolled a while back.

To bone any meat use a sharp flexible bladed knife and, sliding it into the meat, work your way along and around the bones. Blunt knives are much more dangerous than sharp ones because you need so much more pressure, then you slip and cut yourself!

Sprinkle the meat with course salt and freshly ground pepper.

Herbs are always a welcome addition to the pan. This time I have the prunings of the Thyme plants from the garden and I will roast the lamb on a thick bed of these thymey twigs. Rosemary and garlic are also particularly delicious with lamb and later in the year a bed of mint permeates the meat as it cooks and smells of spring. But beware sage, it’s too strong for lamb and belongs with pork.

This piece weighs some 3lbs (about1.5 kg) so it will feed us for a couple of days, hot and cold.

Hot : Roast in a hot oven 20 mins to the lb (45 per kg).
Blanch peeled potatoes for 2-3 mins, drain, then roast round the meat. We had red and yellow stemmed chard from the polytunnel and Puy lentils with garlic and ginger to accompany the meat. It will be a while yet before we dig the first new potatoes and shell the first peas!

And gravy of course; it surprises me how often I am asked how to make gravy without those disgusting gravy granules! Lift the meat from the roasting pan when its cooked and put it to “rest” on a serving plate or board, cover and keep warm. This will make it easier to carve and give you time to finish every thing else. Drain the spinach chard or other vegetable and keep the water. Return the roasting tin to the heat, scrape the residue with a wooden spoon and gradually stir in some of the veg water. Simmer, then stir in a teaspoon of corn flour mixed to a thin paste with a little water. As the gravy heats it will loose the cloudy look and become glossy and a rich brown.. Adjust thickness to your taste with a little more stock or corn flour mixture, if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Next day we will add baked potatoes with crème fraiche to the cold lamb. A rocket salad once more gleaned from the remains in the pollytunnel will be sprinkled with course salt and virgin olive oil, and maybe a dash of fig balsamic vinegar. Or perhaps I‘ll make some mayonnaise instead. Home made plum chutney will finish things off and of course a glass of wine.

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May 21 2007

Lancashire Hotpot

We have two hogs coming back from the butcher on Monday. Maybe that is why my mind drifts back to those old books. Mutton is not on the menu very often now and has definitely fallen from grace until a very recent revival. I think of mutton chops and Lancashire Hotpot. How the methods vary. Dorothy Hartley flours and browns her mutton chops before standing then on end in an earthenware pot. She packs in an onion per chop, large pieces of carrot, then “some oysters”. Next she covers the lot with sliced potato overlapping like “tiles on the roof” She makes a thick, and to my taste, rather heavy gravy with flour, boiling water and the fat from the fried meat. To this she adds salt, pepper and, she insists, a sprinkling of sugar. Most important, she says, no, no, I say! Then in goes a dash of Yorkshire relish or anchovy essence. All this is poured over the meat and vegetables and the whole is covered with a lid and baked “with a good fire” for two hours.

Mrs Beeton fries nothing but simply layers meat and vegetables in a fire-proof baking dish, no oysters here, just water, salt and pepper. The lid is removed twenty minutes before the end of cooking to crisp the potatoes. Constance Spry favours the oysters, mushrooms and a good stock. She covers the pot with grease proof paper instead of a lid removing it some twenty minutes before the end of cooking to crisp and brown the potatoes.. No mention, of course, of such a dish from Elizabeth David. Her mission was to encourage us to look beyond our shores.

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I suspect a tour of Lancashire itself would bring as many, maybe more, variations. So I’ll steer a course through the middle, probably leaving out the oysters and cooking everything a day in advance, cooling overnight and removing the fat from the top before reheating.

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May 21 2007

Bramble Torre Lamb

At Brambletorre we have a small pedigree flock of White Faced Dartmoor Sheep and a few Jacob, White-faced cross breds!

Traditionally most cookery books say roast a leg, loin or shoulder of lamb for twenty minutes to the pound plus a little longer if you like it well done, but I prefer to sprinkle the joint with a little olive oil, coarse salt , crushed garlic and rosemary and start it in a very hot oven 230C (450F), Gas Mark 8 for the first twenty minutes. Then I reduce the heat to 190C (375F, Gas 5), and finish the cooking at approximately 30 minutes to the pound. If you have a Aga or similar Range simply move it to the lower oven. This way the meat cooks more gently and stays succulent and slightly pink in the centre.
When it is cooked I put it on a serving dish in a warm place and let it rest for 15 minutes, this makes it much easier to carve.

A shoulder of lamb is very good browned in oil then cooked in a slow oven for about two hours in a covered pot on a bed of peeled potatoes, a little stock, crushed garlic, chopped onion , salt and pepper………..
……….or leave out the potatoes and half way through cooking add chopped tomatoes, onion, aubergine, green olives, garlic, salt and pepper.

Lamb Hamburgers are not a new idea: ” take the fleshy part of a Leg of Mutton, stript from the fat and sinews, beat that well in a Morter, with Pepper and Salt, and a little Onyon or Garlick, Water by itselfe, or with Herbs according to your taste, then make it up in flat cakes and let them be kept twelve houres betweene two Dishes before you use them, then fry them with butter in a frying Pan and serve them with the same butter, and you will find it a dish of savoury meat”. A Persian dish from The Complete Cook 1658,

Irish Stew and its’ English cousin Lancashire Hotpot should not to be underrated either. Allow a pound of scrag or middle neck of lamb to two pounds of potatoes, half a pound of onions and just enough water to cover, some salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Pack layers into a heavy oven proof pot which has a tightly fitting lid. Various other ingredients can be added to the layers according to tradition and your preference eg. mixed herbs, pearl barley, stuffed prunes, mushrooms, kidneys, oysters (!) to name but a few. But the real secret of these two old traditional dishes is to cook them long and slowly for at least two hours ( or you may have a pressure cooker…) the day before you want to eat them, let them cool and then place in the fridge or larder over night. Next day remove the fat from the surface before reheating slowly. That way all memories of school stew will vanish in a trice!

Devonshire Squab Pie.

Up until the C19th lamb or mutton was often cooked with a lot of dried fruit, and meat pies resembled our Christmas mince pies. Here is a modernised version of a very traditional local pie originally served with clotted cream!

Cut lamb off the bone into slices. Core, peel and slice some apples. Stone a few prunes. Grease a pie dish and fill with layers of the meat, apple and prunes, spicing each layer with a little brown sugar, cinnamon, mace, salt and pepper. Pour in a little stock or water and cover with a short crust pastry lid. Bake for about an hour, protecting the pastry with brown paper if necessary at 180C ( 375 F, Gas 5 )

Vicarage Mutton.

“Hot on Sunday
Cold on Monday
Hashed on Tuesday
Minced on Wednesday
Curried Thursday
Broth on Friday
Cottage pie Saturday”

Sally & Paul Vincent
Bramble Torre

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Jan 30 2006

Lancashire Hotpot

I am amazed, as I run through my large collection of old cookery books,
how our eating habits have changed over the years. The menus of thirty,
forty, fifty years ago sound so heavy now; even during those frugal
years of rationing in the 1940’s and 50’s and daunting childhood
memories of school food! All this before the food revolution of the
Sixties and the indelible mark of Elizabeth David on our diet.

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Apr 08 2005

Cottage Pie

Cottagepie

Traditionally Cottage Pie and Shepherds Pie were made from the leftovers of the Sunday roast. The cold meat was chopped up, mixed with the leftover gravy, put in a pie dish and topped with mashed potato and reheated in the oven. It was OK, but a bit dull!

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Sep 10 2004

lamb

Vicarage Mutton.

“Hot on Sunday
Cold on Monday
Hashed on Tuesday
Minced on Wednesday
Curried Thursday
Broth on Friday
Cottage pie Saturday”

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Mar 04 2004

Roast Shoulder of Lamb

Out of the deepfreeze comes a shoulder of lamb which I boned and rolled a while back.

To bone any meat use a sharp flexible bladed knife and, sliding it into the meat, work your way along and around the bones. Blunt knives are much more dangerous than sharp ones because you need so much more pressure, then you slip and cut yourself!
Continue Reading »

No responses yet