We are working our way through the winter mutton that we got from a crofter in West Gerinish. Two nights ago, we defrosted the best end of neck, which I boned out to get some tasty meat for this stew, and I made stock with the bones. I tried this recipe from Ottolenghi’s book ‘Simple’ – but found that I needed to cook the meat for longer to get it tender. Best end of neck is full of flavour, but it does require a longer cooking time. I also used slight variations in quantity, to fit what we could buy locally or online.
- Olive oil – about 60ml
- 2 small onions, peeled and chopped
- 4 celery sticks, chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp baharat spice mix from ‘Seasoned Pioneers’
- 1 kg lamb, cut into 2cm chunks
- 1 can of chopped tomatos, or around 500g fresh tomatos, peeled and chopped, if available
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 60g pinenuts, toasted
- 40g parsley, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- 200g light tahini paste – stir well before weighing this out
- Juice from 1/2 a small lemon
- 1 clove of garlic
- Add a splash of oil to a large casserole pan with a lid, and heat to low/medium. Cook the onions and celery for ten minutes, until soft.
- Add the tomato paste and the baharat spice mix, and cook for a futher two minutes. Put the mixture into a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, season the lamb with a good pinch of salt and black pepper.
- In the same pan, add a little more oil, turn up the heat a little to medium, and add the lamb to brown it. Make sure you only put in a single layer, cooking the lamb in three or four batches. Add the lamb to the bowl with the onions, before browning the next batch. If you need to, add a little oil before each batch. I found that I didn’t really need to do this.
- Once all of the lamb is cooked, return the lamb and onions to the pan, and stir in the tomatoes and paprika and bring to a simmer. Check for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if required.
- Cover and simmer for around two hours for mutton best end of neck, could be less for shoulder of lamb. The meat should be tender. If the sauce is not thick enough at the end of cooking, take of the lid and simmer so that it thickens up. This is important; if the sauce is runny, the topping doesn’t stay on the top.
- While the lamb is cooking, blend together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, a generous pinch of salt and around 150 to 200ml water. The consistency you are aiming for is like double cream.
- Heat the oven to fan 180C or 190C if you don’t have a fan oven.
- When the stew is ready, stir in the toasted pine nuts and the parsley, and even over the surface of the stew so it is quite level.
- Pour over the tahini topping, replace the lid and bake in the oven for 20 minutes to set the tahini sauce.
- Remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes to brown the top of the tahini sauce to a delicious crust.
- Remove from the oven and rest for around five minutes.
I served this with a pilau of bulgar wheat and broad beans.