Lamb and Rhubarb Stew

This is just too good to be true, and too good not to share. The Hebrides produces the main ingredients so well. Mint and rhubarb grow in my garden, and there are sheep all around. The recipe is Persian, and this version comes from ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil, or 50/50 oil and butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 400g lamb, off the bone and cut into large cubes
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 120g parsley, finely chopped
  • 50g fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 3 stalks of rhubarb sliced into 2cm lengths
  • 2 tsp date syrup, or brown sugar

METHOD:

  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a casserole dish, and lightly brown the onions. 
  • Turn up the heat a little and add the lamb, turmeric, salt and pepper, and fry until the meat is browned on all sides
  • Pour over boiling water, so that the meat is covered by around 2 cm of water. Simmer for an hour and a half. 
  • Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan, and cook the herbs for four to five minutes, until they start to darken. 
  • Add the flour, and continue to stir and cook for another three minutes or so. 
  • Add the herbs to the lamb stew and simmer for another half an hour, to make a thick minty stew. At this point, the stew can be set aside and can be finished another day. Just add the herbs, and then stir and freeze, and then do the half hour simmer on defrosting. 
  • Add the rhubarb and date syrup, stir it in and then cook the stew on a low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t stir, as this will break up the rhubarb

Serve with rice. 

Kabab-e kubideh – Minced meat kebab

When I was much younger, I lived in Teheran, and we used to have barbecues when we were out and about – often my dad would barbecue chicken, but we’ve had some amazing meals. We had a sort of portable barbecue, and some rush fans to get the charcoal glowing hot.

I made these kebabs under the electric grill at home, but they would taste so much better cooked under an open sky, the sun throbbing in the sky, with mountains on the horizon and an icy river flowing through the rocks below.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1kg beef mince, or 50/50 beef and lamb
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (about half a lime)
  • A pinch of saffron, ground in a pestle and mortar and dissolved in a tsp of hot water
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion and garlic, and put it in the blender with the lime juice and blitz it.
  • Put the meat, onion/garlic/lime, salt, pepper, saffron and baking soda in a large bowl. Kneed the mixture with your hands for 15 minutes to make a paste
  • Divide the meat into eight or so lumps, and press this around the skewers. The skewers should be flat, so that the kebab doesn’t spin round. We used some stainless steel strips cut into 18 inch lengths. Mold the meat around the skewers. Once they are ready, set aside in a cool place.
  • If you are using a barbecue, this should be lit and burning for around half an hour before cooking, so that the charcoal is glowing hot. We had the grill set to high.
  • In a small pan, melt the butter and combine with a dash of lime and a pinch of salt. A little cayenne pepper could also be added here.
  • Brown the kebabs quickly on each side, so that the outer layer is firm; this is to stop the kebabs falling apart.
  • Baste with the butter and lime, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  • Serve with flat bread, and salad. The kebab can be garnished with lime juice or sumac powder. The best salad would be yoghurt, spring onions, herbs and garlic, perhaps with some walnuts.

Sri Lankan beef casserole

OMG this was delicious. I used a recipe from Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey, but adapted it because I didn’t have any brisket, just stew packs. I also had some wonderful local beef to use.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg beef (preferably brisket, tied for a roast, but diced for stew works OK too)
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
  • 4 tbsp olive oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1 inch of cinnamon stick
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 inches of ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar, or 1 tsp lime pickle
  • 350ml stock
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 250ml coconut milk.

METHOD:

  • sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper
  • Put a small heavy pan over a medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the coriander, cumin, fennel and fenugreek. Toast for 30 seconds, and then empty onto a bit of kitchen paper or teatowel. Once the spices have started to cook, crush them in a pestle and mortar.
  • Preheat the oven to gas 3, 160C.
  • Put the oil into a large casserole dish. Once the oil is hot, brown the meat on all sides, and set it aside
  • Next, fry the onion ginger, garlic and cinnamon in the same pan. Cook for around five minutes.
  • Add the vinegar, stock, cayenne pepper, 1 tsp salt and the roasted ground sices. Stir together and add the beef. Bring to the boil.
  • Cover and place in the oven for around 2 hours.
  • When the meat is tender, transfer the casserole to the hob and stir in the coconut milk.

We served this with rice, but it also goes well with potato or bread.

Butternut squash with tahini sauce and meatballs.

Just testing out some of the recipes in the ‘Cook for Syria’ – some of them look quite complicated, or involve ingredients that I can’t get. This recipe was tasty, but I think the original meatball recipe in the book needs a little boost.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 450g minced beef
  • 50g breadcrumbs (I used panko) OR stick one slice of stale bread in a blender.
  • 2 handfuls of parsley, chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and deseeded
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp water
  • pine nuts
  • butter

METHOD:

  • Heat the oven to 180C
  • Chop the butternut squash into cubes, season with salt and pepper, and roast for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile put the roughly chopped onion in a blender with the parsley, and blend until the onion is finely chopped.
  • In a large bowl, mix the mince, breadcrumbs, parsley, onion, cumin, chilli, and egg yolk. Season with 1 level teaspoon of salt and a good grating of black pepper. Get your hands right into the mixture and really knead it together so that it is smooth and consistent.
  • Shape into small meatballs about the size of a ping-pong ball, and put onto a roasting tray.
  • When there is still 15 minutes left for the squash to cook, put the meatballs into the same oven, and roast the meatballs and squash for a further 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix the tahini, crushed garlic, yoghurt, lemon juice and water in a bowl until it is very smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Toast the pine nuts in butter for a couple of minutes, until beginning to brown.
  • In a warmed serving dish, layer the meatballs and squash, drizzle over the tahini sauce and garnish with toasted pine nuts. The dish should be placed on the table so that guests can serve themselves.

Stifatho – Greek beef stew with tiny onions

My recipe for Stifatho comes from The Home Book of Greek Cookery by Joyce M. Stubbs. I bought it in a jumble sale in 1987, and it has been in use ever since. There are many other versions online. The trickiest bit was to find small onions or shallots. Shallots grow well here. The ones in the shops are a bit too large, you are hoping to use shallots or onions about the size of a walnut.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg stewing steak, cut into portions about the size of half a post-card and 1cm thick
  • 1kg shallots or pickling onions
  • 200ml olive oil
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 200ml red wine
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • In a skillet, brown the meat in hot olive oil and put into a casserole dish.
  • Cover the meat with hot water, and stew gently in a moderate oven (140C) for an hour.
  • Using a soup wand, puree the tin of tomatoes, and add them to the meat, along with the peeled whole onions, garlic cloves, bay leaves, spices, red wine, wine vinegar, and the rest of the olive oil.
  • Bring the stew to a simmer, stir, cover with a lid and return to the oven for at least another two hours.
  • Once the meat is tender, and the sauce is rich and thick, take it out of the oven and set to one side. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper at this stage.
  • Cook some small potatoes, and serve with the stew. The stew could be served with mashed potatoes, or in small bowls with a side-serving of boiled potatoes.

Beef stew with chocolate and prunes

This is madly delicious. The original recipe is in Honey from a Weed by Patience Grey.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg beef, cut to about the size and shape of a large thumb
  • 1 onion, halved and finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 glass of spanish brandy
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 bunch of herbs, include thyme, bay, parsley
  • 200ml white wine or noilly prat
  • 300ml water
  • 12 fine prunes
  • olive oil
  • 2 potatoes per person, peeled and cubed.

METHOD:

  • Soak the prunes for an hour.
  • Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a pan, and brown the meat. When it is browned, put it in a casserole dish.
  • Fry the sliced onion in the olive oil, with the unpeeled garlic cloves, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown.
  • Add the tomatoes to the frying pan, with the brandy, and wine. Simmer for around 20 minutes
  • Add the paprika, bitter chocolate, and the cinnamon, and the herbs.
  • Stir in the water, and cook for a few minutes, before pouring this over the meat in the casserole dish.
  • Simmer in a moderate oven, around 140C, for 2 hours.
  • Cook the prunes for 1/2 an hour in a very little water, and drain them.
  • Fry the cubes of potato in hot oil until they are golden.
  • Serve the stew on a platter, with the fried potatoes at one end, and the stewed prunes the other.

Tas Kebab

I found this in an old book of Greek recipes, but when I researched it online, I found many variants. It is one of many Greek recipes that originated further east, and there are dishes by the same name in Iran and Turkey.

All of the recipes have in common a stew that is served with rice. I made it the way suggested in my book, with a bit more detail about how to add the rice. The quantities are quite large: once the rice is added this will serve around 10 people.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg stewing steak, cut into small pieces, around the size of the last joint of your thumb
  • 50g butter
  • 2 finely sliced onions
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 wine-glass of vermouth (I used Noilly Prat)
  • 500ml hot water
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • salt and pepper.
  • 500g basmati rice
  • Sliced carrots, optional extra.

METHOD:

  • In a heavy pan, melt the butter and add the sliced onions. Cook the onions slowly so they soften and begin to colour.
  • Add the tomatoes, cinnamon, sugar and season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the pieces of meat and add to the pan with the water, bring to a simmer and cook very slowly for a couple of hours.
  • Add the vermouth and set to one side.
  • Wash the rice in cold water then boil it in salted water for six minutes. Drain the rice and rinse through with cold water. If you are adding carrots, they can be chopped and cooked with the rice.
  • Put half the rice in the bottom of a casserole dish. Then add the stew, then the rest of the rice (you can do multiple layers like this, ending with a rice layer).
  • Put the casserole pan into the oven at around 130C and bake for an hour.

If you don’t want to cook it straight away, you can freeze the stew in portions. I allowed 100g of stew to 50g of rice to good effect.

Roast shoulder of lamb version 2

This is a fancier version of the simple recipe from Shetland. Same principles but more ingredients. Slow cooking is essential with local lamb.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 3 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped (or use Worcestershire sauce)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 1.5 kg shoulder of lamb
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 glass of white wine

METHOD:

  • Heat the oven to 140C.
  • Chop the rosemary, capers, garlic and anchovies, and mix with the olive oil and the zest and juice of one of the lemons.
  • Slash at the joint of lamb and rub the rosemary mixture all over.
  • Chop the onion into wedges and scatter into the base of a roasting dish. Cut the remaining lemon in half, squeeze into the tin, and then put all the used lemon halves into the tin with the onions.
  • Put the lamb on top of the onions and lemons, and roast for an hour
  • Add the glass of wine and roast for a further three hours until the meat is really tender. Cover the lamb with foil if it is looking at risk of getting too crispy.
  • Leave the lamb to rest for fifteen minutes before serving. Pull the meat into portions rather than carving – it should just fall from the bone.

Lamb and brown rice in one pot

We always have some lamb left after we have roast lamb, but it is never as good the next day. This was very good, I found it on the internet when I was looking for something else, never found it again.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Chopped left-over lamb – enough to fill a 1 pint jug.
  • 200g brown rice
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • finely diced streaky bacon, or salt pork, or pancetta, or lardons or similar

METHOD:

  • Boil the rice in a big pan of water for 15 minutes, drain and set aside. It should be slightly underdone.
  • In a large pan, fry the bacon, onions, celery and carrots for at least five minutes
  • Add the lamb and rice, stir together and then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, paprika, and worcestershire sauce.
  • Bake in a low oven for 45 minutes.
  • Serve with a green vegetable, such as broccoli.

Beef Burgers

I’d never made beef burgers before – so now that we have this huge supply of mince from a local herd that was down-sizing, I thought I’d give it a go. Who knew – these are like making meatballs that I’ve made many times in many versions. I suppose you could make meatballs with the mixture too.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • a handful of panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix them together well, using your hands to make a thick paste. If you don’t like the onion bits in your burgers, you can mix the mince and onion, and put it through a mincer, before adding the other ingredients.
  • Put the mixture in the fridge to chill until you need it.
  • Divide the mixture into rounds, about 15mm to 20mm thick. Any burgers that you don’t need can be frozen.
  • Fry the burgers in a little oil, around 5 to 6 minutes on each side.

Serve in a roll, with salad, cornichons, tomato ketchup, etcetera. Try lightly toasting the roll in the frying pan before putting the burger in.