I keep popping my head up for air and then making big promises of a return to regular blogging. And then I get swallowed up by work again, or come down with the plague, or both, and I disappear underwater again for another month.
So I’m not going to make any grandiose plans this time, except to note that I do, in fact, have three posts in progress right now, and a likely two more to come, if only I can tread water fast enough… After that, well, August is full of centenary stuff for work, so I suspect I will start sinking again. But I’ll be back when I can, I promise.
(and if you are interested in the Centenary stuff, here’s a link to all the Science in the Square events for August – they look like a lot of fun, so if science is something you are interested in, come along and see what’s happening!)
To the recipe, Batman!
This was just a simple stew I put together one Sunday evening when I had a shoulder of lamb that wasn’t quite defrosted enough to roast, a couple of lemons which had been zested but not juiced, chickpeas from a tin that had been drained for meringue purposes and were drying out in the fridge, and a lot of tomatoes and onions – and also no desire to go to the shops. I was in an Italian or Greek sort of mood, so I added oregano and chilli and just a little cinnamon, and the result was one of the best lamb stews I’ve ever made – very fresh and clean tasting, and lovely with Turkish bread, labneh and tabouli (and the next night, in a bake with macaroni and melted cheese).
Of course, the challenging part of this recipe – which I do not expect you to do – was getting the meat off the lamb shoulder. You see, this was yet another piece of the infamous and enormous Roast Lamb Pack that I got at Easter, in a state of ill-advised post-Lenten euphoria, but we just don’t eat that many roasts in our household. So I figured I’d carve the lamb off the bone and cut it into chunks myself. This turned out to be tricky for two reasons. First, the lamb just would not defrost, which made cutting it difficult. And secondly, well, let’s just say that I have renewed respect for butchers as professionals. Figuring out where the bone is (especially when the joint is half frozen) is really difficult. Making usefully sized and shaped chunks out of the meat, while avoiding waste, is even harder. I suspect diced meat is priced well under what it is worth in terms of labour.
But in this case, my work was all worthwhile. This is a great stew, and I’ll be making it again.
(And apologies for returning to blogging with yet another meat post. Sadly, the tireder I am, the more likely I am to revert to easy food, and my repertoire of easy vegetarian food that Andrew will also eat is just not up to the job… something to work on next year, when I have a life again!)
Your Shopping List
500 g – 750g lamb shoulder, diced by someone else
2 tsp lamb spice mix from Gewürzhaus (optional)
2 big onions, sliced
2 tbsp chilli flakes (yes, this is quite hot, but it’s a nice, clean heat – I really liked it)
2 tbsp oregano
5 cloves of garlic (or cheat like I did, and use 1 tablespoon of Gewürzhaus garlic lovers spice)
a handful of cherry tomatoes (optional, I had some, they were going to go off if I didn’t use them, you know the drill…)
2 tins of tomatoes, or one tin of tomatoes and a jar of tomato-based pasta sauce
juice of two lemons
1 tin of chickpeas (drained)
1 cinnamon stick
salt and pepper to taste
Now what will you do with it?
In a large saucepan, brown the lamb briefly, with a bit of the lamb spice mix if you have it (if you don’t, a little salt and pepper will be fine).
Remove the lamb from the saucepan, add a little more oil if needed, and sauté the onions for a few minutes with the chilli and oregano, until the onions are soft. Add the garlic for the last minute of cooking, followed by your handful of cherry tomatoes.
Pour in the tinned tomatoes and the lemon juice. Add the chickpeas and cinnamon stick, and season to taste.
Bring to the boil, cover, and put over the lowest heat you can for about 3 hours, or until the meat can be cut with a spoon. This would work beautifully in a slow cooker for 8 hours or so, too. Check the liquid levels and stir a few times – you want the meat to be just covered but not swimming. I didn’t need to add any water, I found.
Serve with turkish bread, rice, couscous or pasta – take your pick – and, depending on which of these options you went with, consider labneh, grated cheese, or even a crumble of feta or some grilled haloumi if you are feeling fancy. A bit of tabouli on the side is nice.
My brain doesn’t want to do variations! I loved this just as it was! That’s the whole point of writing it down!
OK, more seriously, the current dish is completely not vegetarian, but I have a feeling that leaving out the lamb entirely and making this dish with just chickpeas (and lots of them) that have been soaked overnight would be lovely. Adding some sautéed eggplant slices at the end might be a nice addition, too.