Lamb shanks in a fragrant yoghurt sauce

I made this with a couple of shanks from a wee hebridean hogget. I used a Madhur Jaffrey recipe as a starter, but it has been adapted to suit me. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • salt and pepper
  • approx 200ml yoghurt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • a walnut-sized bit of fresh ginger, sliced
  • 4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 5 cardamon pods
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • half a small onion, cut into fine slices. 

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 160C. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper
  • Make the yoghurt sauce. Put the yoghurt, garlic, ginger, 100ml water in a food processer and blitz this until the garlic and ginger are finely minced. Next, sprinkle in the flour, coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper along with a small tsp of salt, and blitz again. 
  • Put the oil in a small casserole dish or pan suitable for the oven. It should accept the two lamb shanks. Over a medium high heat, add the cardamon, cloves, peppercorns and the lamb shanks. Brown the meat on both sides, adding the sliced onions as you go. 
  • Once the lamb is browned on both sides, add the yoghurt mixture, stir and bring to a simmer, before covering the pan and putting it in the oven. 
  • Cook for around 3 hours, checking from time to time. 

We had this with Greek flatbreads from the Co-op, a current favourite. 

Shoulder of lamb with mint and cumin

I made this for a large weekend meal, and it was delicious. It takes a bit of prep the day before, and is a long time cooking. It is not a weeknight event. It was delicious and I would make it again. It helped that I had the main ingredients in the garden, or in the freezer. The recipe comes from Ottolenghi ‘Simple’. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lemon – grated rind and juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic for the marinade
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 15g mint leaves
  • 15g coriander leaves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 boned shoulder of lamb weighing around 1kg
  • 1 celeriac (about 400g) cut into 2cm chunks
  • 3 carrots (about 300g) cut into 2cm chunks
  • 1 head of garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves. 
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Put the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, 2/4 tsp salt, black pepper spices and herbs in a small spice grinder or small blender, and blitz into a paste. 
  • Put the lamb into a large bowl and stab it at least 20 times. Rub in the spice mixture, wrap in a plastic bag or similar, and refrigerate overnight. 
  • Start cooking after lunch. Heat the oven to 170C. Put the marinaded lamb into a casserole dish, cover and put it in the oven for an hour. 
  • Reduce the temperature to 160C, add all of the vegetables including all of the unpeeled garlic cloves. Return to the oven. I found that I needed to add small amounts of water to keep everything moist during cooking, checking every hour or so. I cooked this way for four hours. 
  • Add another small splash of water, remove the lid and return to the oven for another hour. Prepare anything else you need, such as mashed potatoes, greens, etcetera. 

I had a boned shoulder of lamb, but you could use bone-in lamb, and keep the joint in the oven until the meat is falling off the bone. 

Lamb stew with potatoes and beans

We went to Exeter, stayed in Topsham and visited Darts Farm shop, where there were many lovely things. I have to say, though, I thought the idea of a farm shop was to sell local produce. Some of the produce wasn’t that local, we found Hebridean Smokehouse smoked salmon on sale. We picked up many rare treats, and some recipe cards. This recipe was on one of them, adapted from Mary Berry. I have added some additional instructions.  

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1kg lamb neck chops, lamb neck fillet or other stewing lamb. 
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp Madras curry powder
  • 450ml stock
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney
  • 400g tin haricot or cannelloni beans, OR 200g beans, soaked and then boiled in water for an hour
  • 200g potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks, or a similar weight of large yellow carrots. 
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 160C
  • In a large casserole dish, heat half of the vegetable oil on quite a high heat, and brown the pieces of lamb, in batches. Remove from the pan to a plate once this is done. 
  • Add the rest of the oil to the pan and fry the onion, celery and garlic for around 10 minutes over a low heat. 
  • Add the spices and fry for another thirty second or so, before adding the stock, tomaotes, tomato puree and mango chutney. Bring to the boil.
  • Add the lamb, salt and pepper, bring back to a simmer and put the lid on the dish. Put this in the oven for an hour. 
  • If you are preparing this ahead of time, now is the time to put the casserole in the fridge or freezer
  • Put the casserole back on the hob, and add the beans and potatoes. Bring everything back to the boil, put the lid back on, and back in the oven for 50 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked. 

We served this with green vegetables. It was delicious. 

Mutton Paprika

This stew is so tender, so tasty, and so simple. Tonight we served it with mashed potatoes, but it is also great with dumplings. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 kg neck of mutton or lamb, chopped
  • 3 tbsp mild paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 500ml stock
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • chopped parsley 

METHOD:

  • Check the meat over, remove any excess fat or loose bits of splintered bone. I leave the neck chops with the bone in. 
  • Mix the spices, salt and pepper, flour and meat together in a container, seal it and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to cook; this could be overnight, but don’t worry if you forget and don’t have so much time. 
  • Heat the olive oil in a large casserole pan, and gently fry the onions until they are soft. 
  • Add the meat and heat through, before adding the stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 2 hours or so. This can be done in the oven, temp 130 C
  • Once it is cooked, add the lemon juice (which is optional) and serve garnished with chopped parsley. 
  • If you want dumplings, mix 225g self-raising flour with 110g suet and chopped parsley, and add enough ice-cold water to make a loose dough. Make balls of dough about the size of walnuts, and drop them into the stew. Let them cook for around 20 minutes. 

Delicious. Also, adaptable. You can swap around the stock, add wine, add a few herbs such as bay leaves and oregano, add sliced potatoes for the last hour of cooking instead of dumplings. 

Shepherd’s pie

There were several reasons to cook this tonight. First of all, we have a lot of fresh vegetables in the garden, and Malcolm requested plain cabbage, no messing with stir fries or salad, just lightly boiled, seasoned and buttered. Next, we had some lamb in the freezer, and I wanted to test out a new mincer. Also, we have some lovely potatoes coming in, the crop we are eating just now is Arran Pilot, and I wanted to see how well they mashed. They mashed very well indeed. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, in small chunks
  • 500g lean minced lamb
  • 500ml lamb or beef stock
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 900g potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 75g – 85g butter
  • milk, to achieve consistency
  • salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan, and when it is hot, add the onion and carrots, and cook over a medium heat until the onion is softening
  • Add the minced lamb, and turn the heat up, browning the mince
  • Add the tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and stock, and bring to a simmer. 
  • Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then uncover and simmer another 20 minutes to reduce the liquid. Season to taste with pepper and salt, if required. 
  • Boil the chopped potatoes in salted water, and drain. Mash with the butter, and a little milk to make a soft smooth mash. 
  • Add the mince to an oven-proof dish, and then put the mashed potatoes on top, using a fork to make patterns that will crisp up in the oven. 
  • At this point, the pie can be frozen or put in the fridge for cooking later
  • To cook the pie, bake for around 30 minutes. Leave to stand a few minutes before serving. 

To cook the cabbage, I cut it into wedges, cooked it for around 5 minutes in boiling water, then I poured the water off, and added salt, pepper and butter. 

Pasticcio – Greek baked macaroni with lamb mince

This feeds about eight people, or six very hungry teenagers. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 450g lamb mince
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 450g macaroni
  • 250g ricotta
  • 75g parmesan
  • 50ml cream
  • 2-3 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • nutmeg

METHOD:

  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil, and very gently fry the onion for around ten minutes. Towards the end of the cooking, add the chopped garlic. 
  • Add the lamb mince, and turn the heat up to medium. Stir it into the hot oil to brown it, around 5 minutes. Add the oregano and cinnamon as you cook the mince
  • Add the tinned tomatoes and the stock cube, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes, then take the lid off and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper at the end of cooking. 
  • Next, cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the pack. 
  • In a bowl, combine the ricotta, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs. Stir in 50g of grated parmesan. Stir in the cooked macaroni
  • Pour the mince into a large lasagne dish, and then top this with the macaroni. Sprinkle the top with around 25g grated parmesan. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. 

I served this with a green salad. It is good the next day served at room temperature. 

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.