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. 

Cannellini Bean, Garlic and Lamb Soup

I’m not sure if this is a soup or a stew. It is very sweet from the gently stewed garlic and lamb, just the most delicious comfort food. I found it in ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 head of celeriac, peeled and chopped into small dice
  • 20 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 500g lamb or beef, in 2cm squares
  • 1.75L water
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • 7 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp date syrup or brown sugar
  • 250g small firm potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon wedges and chopped coriander, to serve

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and celeriac on a medium heat for fie minutes, until the onion starts to brown. 
  • Add the garlic and cumin and cook for another couple of minutes before taking off the heat and setting to one side
  • Put the meat in the water in a large pan, and bring to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes, skimming any foam from the surface.
  • Add the onions, celeriac, beans, cardamom, turmeric, tomato puree and sugar. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for an hour. 
  • Add the potatoes to the soup season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Bring back to the boil and simmer for a further 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and tender. You may need to add water and stir from time to time to prevent the soup from sticking. 
  • Serve the soup with a squeeze of lemon and some chopped coriander leaves. 

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.

Simple baked shoulder of lamb

We rarely buy meat, and when we do, we buy locally slaughtered meat. We focus on food producers whose animals have minimal supplementation wherever possible. These are often Hebridean sheep, sheep that have grazed on the hill, or on off-shore islands. When I say ‘lamb’ we are really talking about hoggets, or mutton. This is darker meat with a stronger, more delicious flavour than New Zealand lamb. It is firmer, and requires different cooking techniques.

I have friends in Shetland, and they face a similar choice. Local meat requires a specific approach if it is to be enjoyed at its best. Home-kill cuts are not boned, and many of my recipe books start with ‘ask the butcher to bone…’ so I stop right there.

This weekend past, I dived again into James and Tom Morton’s book, Shetland. Shetland has similar issues – small weather-proof animals producing well-flavoured meat. They came up with the simplest recipe yet for cooking a shoulder of local lamb. It has features of all recipes that have worked well for me, but pared right back to the basics, ready for experimentation down the line. I recommend you buy the book for more classics.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 shoulder of local lamb
  • Vegetable oil, for example olive oil
  • Salt
  • Herbs, such as thyme, rosemary

METHOD:

  • Set the oven to high – around 240C, and let it heat up fully.
  • Coat the meat with a sparing amount of oil, and season well with salt, and scatter with herbs. Place it in a well-fitting roasting dish.
  • Roast the meat for 30 minutes, to produce a crust, and then turn the heat down to 150C and add a glass of water.
  • Continue to cook at the lower temperature for a further 3 hours, cover with foil if it is looking a little too crispy.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes or more before serving.

Of course, you could add garlic and white wine, or a shot of brandy. You could add rose-water, and rub the meat with ras-el-hanout. However, this was splendid as it came.

Lamb curry with whole spices

We have made this using left-overs from roast lamb, but the original recipe came from Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Curry Easy’. The book is very easy to use, the recipes easy and delicious and fresh. The resulting curry would easily serve 6.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 tbsp organic vegetable oil
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 1 x 10cm cinnamon stick
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • 1 tsp whole fennel
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 900g diced local lamb (or goat)
  • 300ml natural organic yoghurt (2x150ml)
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Heat the oil in a large oven-proof pan and set over a medium heat. Once it is hot, add the whole spices (cardamom, cinnamon,cloves, cumin and fennel) and give them a stir before adding the chopped onions, and fry until the onion is beginning to brown.
  • Add all of the other ingredients, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan with foil and then the lid to seal, and then bake in the oven for 1 1/4 hours until the meat is tender.
  • Uncover, and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the meat is drier and slightly browned. Stir occasionally to disperse any liquid evenly.

Serve with a vegetable dish and pita breads.

Moroccan spiced Lamb hearts

Another chapter in my quest to make sure that there is nothing to waste for our local meat. I was amazed how many lamb’s hearts were going for such a low price the last time I was buying local meat. I have got a dab hand at removing the fat and coronary arteries from the top of the heart: a bit like removing the top from a pepper. I find the best way to prepare a lamb’s heart is with a pair of sharp kitchen scissors. I snip the fat off around the top of the heart, in which the coronary arteries lie embedded. This includes snipping of the auricles, which are small, brown grissly looking appendages up at the top. You should be left with a cone of thick heart muscle. I also hoick out any blood clots still in the ventricles. As a guide, one heart serves one person.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 lamb’s hearts, trimmed, and cut in quarters lengthways
  • 2 tbsp organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp black cumin seeds (you can use ordinary cumin as well)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 carrots
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 pint stock

METHOD:

  • Grind the fennel, coriander and cumin together
  • Put the lamb’s hearts in a resealable plastic box with the freshly ground cumin, coriander, fennel, and the turmeric, ginger, crushed garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Put the lid back on, give it a shake to mix, and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  • Peel and cut the onions in half, then slice into half-rings.
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  • ry the onion gently in a small amount of olive oil for 10 minutes on a low heat, then add the meat and turn the heat up to brown it.
  • Preheat the oven to 140C
  • Add the carrots and stock, cinnamon and bayleaves, bring to a simmer and season to taste
  • Cover the pot and bake in the oven for a couple of hours

Serve with rice, couscous or pitta bread, salad as a side-serving. You could subsititute ras al hanout for the spices at the start, and add apricots instead of carrots.