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. 

Fried liver with cumin

This is another favourite recipe from the Moro cookbook. We are often shocked by how few people will eat offal, but the waste of not eating the whole animal is anathema. This recipe is very quick and easy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Sliced liver (we had lambs liver) around 400g
  • 5 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Cut the liver into strips around 5cm long and 2cm wide.
  • Season the flour with cumin, salt and pepper,
  • Just before frying, dust the liver strips with the flour
  • Heat the butter and oil in a pan until the butter starts to foam.
  • Quickly, place strips of liver into the hot fat, and cook on each side until it is sealed: the outer layer should be browned, but the centre should still be pink and juicy.

Serve with mayonaise, or with chopped salad, or with a yoghurt and cumin dressing.

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.
  • Fry 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.

Beefheart and kidney stew

INGREDIENTS:

  • One beefheart, chopped into large cubes
  • 2 lamb or pig kidneys, prepared and chopped
  • 1 or 2 rashers of streaky smoked bacon, or lardons
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 florence fennel (if available)
  • vegetable oil, dripping or other cooking fat
  • 1 large glass of wine
  • 1 can organic butterbeans
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 bayleaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 heaped tbsp flour blended with a little butter

METHOD:

  • Using a deep cast-iron casserole dish, heat the cooking fat and fry off the chopped meat, and set aside.
  • Fry the bacon in the fat with the finely chopped shallots
  • Add the meat back to the pan, along with the glass of wine, herbs, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer
  • Cook in a very slow oven, around 110C for approximately five hours
  • Add the beans and the flour mixture, stir and cook for another 20 minutes or so.

We ate this with mashed potato, carrots and leeks. Any left-over stew could be used for a pie filling.

Beef Cheeks

We are working through the lower reaches of our freezer, and someone has given us beef cheeks. I am very keen on eating all of the animal, waste is a terrible thing.

Beef cheeks are tough, cheap and extremely tasty cuts of meat that need long cook times to make them tender. You could use shin of beef or venison for this recipe instead.

First off, I had to prepare the beef cheek. I started with about 600g of meat, but a lot of it was sheets of fat and connective tissue. I trimmed it, using a very sharp knife, and then cut the remaining sheets of meat into pieces about the size of half a post-card, and about 1 cm thick.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 600g ox/beef cheeks
  • seasoned flour, 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 2 large Carrots, chopped
  • 2 sticks Celery, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • a dash Brandy
  • 300ml Red Wine
  • 1 clove
  • half tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 pinch of aniseed
  • 4 sprigs of time, or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 can of tomatoes, blended
  • 2 Anchovies (you can buy these in a jar, in oil)
  • Salt and Black pepper
  • Flat Leaf Parsley, to serve.

METHOD:

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.

  • Trim the cheeks as described above, coat each piece with seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, and brown the cheeks. Once they are done, remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Slice the onions, carrots, garlic and celery and cook in the same pan over a medium to low heat, until soft. Add a little more butter or olive oil if required
  • Once the vegetables are soft, increase the heat and add the meat back to the pan, with the can of pureed tomatoes. Mix to coat the ox cheeks and veg in the puree and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the wine, brandy, clove, cinnamon, thyme, bayleaves, aniseed and anchovies, and bring to a simmer. Put the pan into the oven to cook for 2 1/2 hours.You may wish to check that there is enough liquid in the pan half way; add stock or water if necessary
  • After 2 1/2 hours, check that the meat is tender, and turn the oven off, leaving the pan in the oven. Use this time to make mashed potatoes, cook any additional vegetables, have a cheeky wee glass of wine, and remember to warm the plates.

We had this with mashed potatoes, but the original recipe suggested polenta as an alternative. It was delicious.