Italian Lamb Stew

Oh, this is so delicious, I would cook it every week if I had enough local lamb. I got the basic recipe from ‘Dear Francesca‘ but adapted it to use some ingredients that I already had. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 to 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 1 kg (+) gigot chops (or other chops) or lamb shoulder – trim the chops of fat, 
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pinches of dried thyme, or 1 tsp of Italian dried herbs
  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste
  • 200ml stock or water
  • 8 small new potatoes, or 4 large potatoes peeled and cut into chunks. 

METHOD:

  • In a large casserole dish, heat the olive oil, and fry the garlic and onion over a low low heat for ten minutes. 
  • Set the onions aside, and fry the meat in the olive oil to seal it. 
  • Return the onions and garlic to the pan, and add the tinned tomatoes, pepper paste and herbs. Bring to a simmer. 
  • Cook in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes. At this stage, the stew can be frozen or kept in the fridge to finish cooking alter. 
  • Add the potatoes to the pan, and the extra stock if required, and cook on the stove top until the potatoes are cooked (about half an hour or so) 

And you’re done! The book suggests chicken or beef versions of the same stew, but with lamb it is just glorious. We served it with a green side salad. 

Lamb stew with dried limes, vegetables, and borlotti beans (Khoresht-e Gormeh Sabzi)

I can’t believe I haven’t shared this recipe before. It uses the vegetables that are making a come-back after the winter, and is also a good way to use some of the Allium triquetrum leaves as they start to grow. It is a very unusual flavour for western palates, the dried limes and turmeric give the stew a rich flavour. I used the recipe in ‘Nightingales and Roses’ and added the vegetables growing in the garden. I wonder what it would be like with a bit of lovage?

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 dried limes (from Persepolis or other online shops)
  • 100g parsley
  • 100g coriander
  • 100g spinach or chard
  • 1 handful of kale tops
  • 1 handful of Allium triquetrum or inner leaves from small leeks
  • olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 500g lamb (from shoulder or best end of neck) in large pieces. 
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 can borlotti beans, drained 

METHOD:

  • Cover the limes in hot water, and weigh them down with a small plate so that they soften over the next couple of hours. 
  • Strip the leaves from the parsley and coriander, and rinse all of the green vegetables, and leave to dry. 
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a casserole dish and cook the onions until they are golden.
  • Add the lamb and turmeric and fry until the meat is browned. Add enough stock or water to cover the meat and bring to a slow simmer. Continue to cook on a low heat for an hour. 
  • Use a food processor to chop the green vegetables finely. You’ll need to do this in batches. 
  • Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a pan and add the chopped vegetables, and cook until they begin to darken. Add the fried vegetables to the stew. 
  • Add the limes to the stew. To enhance the flavour, stab them a few times before putting them in. Braise for another 30 minutes
  • Add the borlotti beans and simmer for another 30 minutes. Check the flavour and add salt to taste. 

We had this with plain rice, and it was phenomenal. The main part of the stew is the beans and vegetables, with lovely tender lamb morsels. 

Spiced lamb heart stew

This recipe is probably not that authentic, but it is based on a US recipe for a Moroccan stew. I have adapted it to use locally available ingredients and metric measures. I feel very strongly that if we are to eat meat at all, it should be local, and there should be no waste. This ‘nose to tail’ approach covers ingredients that are not commonly available in supermarkets, but can be acquired locally, before they are discarded.

Before you start, be aware that this recipe requires marinating overnight, and a slow cook the next day, so not a quick cook. I managed to set the oven onto automatic, so it was ready when I came home. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 lamb hearts
  • 100ml good quality olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 100g sliced dried apricots
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thickly
  • 50g chopped black olives
  • 500ml stock
  • 4 large carrots (or squash or pumpkin or sweet potato) in 1 inch chunks

METHOD:

  • Prepare the hearts. cut away the coronary arteries around the top of the heart, as well as the auricles (small flaps at the top) and then cut the muscle into 1 inch chunks, or as close as possible. Put them in a sealable container and add the marinade ingredients as you prepare them. 
  • Grind the fennel seed in a mortar and pestle, and add this to the lamb hearts along with the cumin, coriander and turmeric.
  • Add the grated ginger, crushed garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Mix well together. Seal the container and put it in the fridge overnight.
  • The next day, slice the onions into thick slices. Fry in olive oil, over a low heat, for around ten minutes, until soft and brown, and transfer to a casserole dish. 
  • Remove the meat from the marinade, and fry in the same pan to brown it, and then add it to the casserole dish. 
  • Add the vegetables, stock, the marinade, cinnamon stick and bay leaves to the pan, and bring this to a simmer, check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Cover and cook at 180C for 2 hours. Remove the cover for the second hour, to reduce the gravy a little. 
  • I garnished this with chopped parsley and coriander. 

Kibbeh

This is a classic middle eastern dish, found all around the Levant and beyond. I derived this recipe from ‘Moro’ – but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without a really good mincer. I borrowed one as part of a bid to make white pudding, of which, more later. There are some good YouTube videos out there showing the technique, and many many versions. It is easier than it looks at first sight. 

INGREDIENTS:

Outer layer:

  • 250g very lean lamb, minced twice, second time on a fine setting
  • 1/2 small onion, grated finely
  • 125g fine bulgur wheat
  • salt and pepper

Filling:

  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g lean lamb, minced once on a medium setting
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of Baharat spice mix (or 50/50 cinnamon and allspice, with a pinch of paprika)
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts and flaked almonds
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper

To serve

  • Greek yogurt, flavoured with mint, salt and pepper, crushed garlic, and a drizzle of best olive oil

METHOD:

  • Start by making the outer layer. Wash the bulgur wheat with water, and set aside
  • Mix the minced lamb with grated onion, salt and pepper. 
  • ‘Kneed’ the bulgur wheat for around five minutes and then mix well into the minced lamb, to make a stiff paste. Set aside in the fridge. 
  • Next, make the filling. Toast the nuts in hot olive oil. As soon as they start to brown, scoop them out of the oil and set them aside. 
  • Fry the chopped onion in the olive oil very slowly for around 15 minutes, until caramelised. 
  • Add the lamb and Baharat spice mix and turn up the heat a little, to start cooking the lamb. Break up the lamb with a spatula as it cooks. Add a spoonful of cold water to slow the cooking a little, and cook until the pan is dry. 
  • Add the nuts and the chopped herbs, salt and pepper and remove from the heat. 
  • To make the kibbeh, take a ball of the casing about the size of a golf ball, and hollow it out, making a thin-walled cup of paste, and then fill this with the fried lamb filling, and seal it shut, making something lemon-shaped. Continue this way until all the mixtures are used up. 
  • Deep-fry the kibbeh in hot olive oil for around five minutes, turning to ensure they are brown all over. 
  • ALTERNATIVELY put half of the casing at the bottom of an oiled baking dish, add all of the filling and cover with the rest of the casing. Cook for 15 minutes in a hot oven. 

Serve with the yoghurt garnish, fresh flat-breads, and a  sharp green herb salad. For a more substantial meal, serve with a vegetable pilau. 

Lamb with vegetables, oranges and white wine.

This is an Italian recipe from Elizabeth David’s classic, ‘Italian Food’. It is delicious even if not cooked perfectly. I was very lucky and bought some really good quality hogget from West Gerinish, very tender, very tasty. I also used the mystery herbs – called ‘herbs for meat’ or ‘Italian seasoning’, possibly. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • About 900g to 1kg lamb cut in one piece from the leg.
  • A couple of carrots, chopped
  • A stick of celery, chopped
  • an onion, chopped
  • Chopped turnip, about the same volume as the carrot
  • Rind of 1 sweet orange
  • Juice of half the orange
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tbsp mystery herbs, or use oregano or marjoram
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 can of chopped tomato
  • 2 glasses sweet white wine (or one of table wine, one of marsala)
  • olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A splash of balsamic vinegar
  • About 200ml stock (vegetable, chicken or lamb)

METHOD:

  • Chop a clove of garlic finely, and rub it into the meat along with a handful of the mystery herbs, salt and pepper. 
  • Brown the meat in a little oil in a casserole dish, and then set aside.
  • In the same pan, fry the chopped onion slowly in the onion, and then add the garlic, and the rest of the chopped vegetables, garlic, coriander and orange rind, and cook until softened. 
  • Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer then add the meat and white wine, and salt and pepper, and 200ml of stock. The meat should cook on a bed of vegetable stew, slowly roasting in the steam. 
  • Cover and simmer gently for two hours. This works better in a low oven. Keep an eye on the stew to make sure it doesn’t boil dry. 
  • At the end of cooking, squeeze the juice of half an orange over the meat and let it settle before serving. 

 

Persian Lamb and Celery Stew (Khoresht-e Karafs)

We got hold of some locally raised mutton the other week, and the first thing I made was this, so delicious. I love Persian food, and this recipe is just wonderful, so subtle and warming. It should be served with barberry rice, (zereshk polo), but we had it with plain rice, because I didn’t know at the time. 

The recipe is from Maryam Sinaiee’s book, Nightingales and Roses. All of the recipes I have tried from this book have been easy to follow, and delicious. She also writes a food blog called The Persian Fusion, which has a good gluten-free section as well. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large head of cellery
  • 100g flat-leaf parsley
  • 80g mint leaves
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 500g lamb or mutton, cut into chunks (preferably lamb neck fillet or lean shoulder, but I had a bit of leg)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp plain foulr
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • black pepper

METHOD:

  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy casserole dish, and fry the onions over a moderate heat, until they start to brown
  • Add the lamb/mutton and the turmeric, and fry until lightly browed on all sides. 
  • Pour over boiling water, to cover the meat by a couple of centimetres. Bring to the boil, and then lower the heat so that the lamb/mutton can cook for the next hour. 
  • Next up, prepare the herbs. Remove any tough-looking stems from the mint and parsley, and add any leaves from the celery. Put them in a food processor, or slice finely. This makes quite a mound of chopped herbs. 
  • While the lamb continues to cook, cut the celery stalks into 2 centimetre pieces. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and add the celery along with 2 tbsp water, and cover. The celery should cook for about half an hour, until almost soft and beginning to brown at the edges. 
  • Once the meat has been cooking for an hour, add the cooked celery pieces with all their juices. 
  • In the frying pan, heat another 2 tbsp oil, and add the herbs and flour, stir and cook for 4-5 minutes, making sure that the herbs don’t burn. Add the cooked herbs to the stew. 
  • Bring the stew back to the boil and cook for another hour (possibly an hour and a half) – the meat should be really tender and the sauce should be thickened. 
  • Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, cook for a further five minutes. 

Serve with rice; I will test out the Zereshk Polo recipe soon. 

Lamb and Carrot Stew with pickled sour grapes

So delicious. I tried this recipe from the marvellous book, ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. I had to order the grapes pickled in brine from Persepolis in Peckham. They also have excellent quality saffron and other essential Persian spices. If you can’t get pickled grapes, something else sour would do, such as lime or lemon juice, or small gooseberries. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • around 400g boned lamb, for example, leg steaks or boned shoulder, cut into fairly large chunks. 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 25g butter
  • 500g carrots (around 5 medium carrots) chopped into batons around 3cm long. 
  • a tiny pinch of saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
  • 4 tbsp pickled sour grapes. 

METHOD:

  • Over a medium heat, fry the onion in the olive oil, until beginning to brown. 
  • Add the meat, turmeric, cinnamon and cumin, and fry until the meat is browned. 
  • Stir in the tomato paste and salt, and stir and cook for another couple of minutes. Pour over enough boiling water to cover the meat, bring to a simmer and set to cook over a low heat for an hour and a quarter or so. 
  • Meanwhile, cut the carrots into batons and fry in the butter until beginning to caramelise at the edges. 
  • When the meat is almost cooked, combine with the carrots and add the saffron water, and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes or so.
  • Check the seasoning, add the pickled grapes and stir. When you are sure the meat is really tender, serve with basmati rice. 

 

Lamb chops, Persian style

This is an excellent recipe for a beach barbecue (ready for when these are allowed). The chops can be put in the marinade in a sealed box, and they are all ready to cook when you get to wherever the barbecue is. I have also defrosted chops whilst marinading them. Not sure if that is allowed but it worked. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 lamb chops
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp orange peel slivers
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g plain Greek Yoghurt
  • A good pinch of saffron threads in 2 tbsp water. 
  • Some more lime juice and 2 tbsp melted butter for basting

METHOD:

  • Put all of the ingredients in a plastic box with a good lid. Shake them together and marinade for a minimum of 8 hours. 
  • Under a hot grill, cook the chops for around 3 minutes on each side, basting with melted butter and lime juice. 
  • OR get the barbecue on, and when it is really hot (around 30 minutes) put the chops on, basting with butter and lime juice, and cook for around 3 minutes on each side. 

Serve with pitta bread and salad garnished with spring onions and basil. 

Lamb and prunes (Persian Style)

This is a classic combination of lamb and prunes, found across many cultures and cooking styles. This particular recipe is from the north west of Iran, near the border with Turkey. It is totally delicious and relatively easy. I found the recipe in the magnificent book ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. Of course, we don’t have 100% of the ingredients in South Uist, but she makes suggestions that helped me to adapt to local circumstances. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 400g lamb neck fillets or lean tender lamb (I used boned lamb chops)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp madras curry powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 8 dried apricots, chopped in half
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 3 tsp salt 
  • 100g yellow split peas
  • 8 prunes
  • Oil to fry the potatoes. 

METHOD:

  • Heat 2 tbsp cooking oil in a heavy pan, and fry the onions over a medium heat until they are browning. 
  • Add the meat, turmeric and curry powder, and continue to stir and cook until the meat is browned. 
  • Add the tomato paste, cook for another couple of minutes, and then cover the meat in boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour and a half, until the meat is tender. 
  • Meanwhile, soak the apricots in water for at least 30 minutes
  • Meanwhile, cook the yellow peas – put them in a small saucepan and cover with water, and simmer over a low heat. The peas should be soft but still firm. Drain and rinse with cold water. 
  • Meanwhile, peel and dice the potatoes, and put them in cold water with the salt. 
  • When the meat is nearly tender, drain the apricots and add to the stew along with the prunes and split peas. Add a little water if needed to make sure all the ingredients are covered. Bring back to the boil and continue to simmer until the peas are soft. 
  • About 30 minutes before serving, check for seasoning. Drain the potatoes, and fry them in hot oil for about 10 to 15 minutes until golden and crispy. 

Serve the stew with the fried potatoes on top. This goes well with plain rice. 

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.