LAMB AND MUTTON

 

 

Of course the Man was wild too. He was dreadfully wild. He didn’t even begin to be tame until he met the Woman, and she told him she did not like living in his wild ways. She picked out a nice dry Cave, instead of a heap of wet leaves, to lie down in; and she strewed clean sand on the floor; and she lit a nice fire of wood at the back of the Cave; and she said, ‘Wipe your feet, dear, when you come in, and now we’ll keep house.’

 

That night, Best Beloved, they ate wild sheep roasted on the hot stones, and flavoured with wild garlic and wild pepper; and wild duck stuffed with wild rice and wild fenugreek and wild coriander; and marrow-bones of wild oxen; and wild cherries and wild grenadillas.

 

(Rudyard Kipling, Just So Stories)

 

 

CHORBA  (for 4)

Chorba is a meat and vegetable soup to be found in various versions in Muslim lands from North Africa to Central Asia. This is an Algerian version as interpreted by a French chef.

500-700gr boned lamb, diced

1 big onion, peeled and sliced

2 courgettes, sliced

250gr new or waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces

500gr peeled plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

handful each of parsley and mint, chopped

150gr fine vermicelli

olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon, paprika, chilli powder

Brown the lamb briefly in some oil and set aside.  Gently cook the onions in a little olive oil until soft. Add the lamb, potatoes, courgettes, salt, pepper, a big pinch each of cinnamon and chilli powder (more chilli powder for those who like spicy food), one teaspoon of paprika, the parsley, mint and tomatoes, together with enough water to cover. Simmer, covered, for 1-1 ½ hours, adding more water if necessary (the lamb should be very tender). Just before serving, add some extra water and the vermicelli. Cook for a further 5 minutes or until the vermicelli is done. Depending on the amount of liquid, it can be served either as a soup or a stew.

 

CASSOULET AU MOUTON  (for 6)

Good French home cooking..

500gr haricot beans (lingots de Comminges), soaked for at least 8 hours

300gr onions, peeled and sliced

1 kg diced lamb or mutton

300gr pork skin, thinly sliced

1 pig’s trotter or hambone (if available)

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 whole onions, peeled and each stuck with 2 cloves

2 sticks celery, sliced

thyme, bay-leaf, parsley

200gr streaky bacon, finely chopped

4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

goose fat or butter, olive oil, salt, pepper

Soften the sliced onion in the fat or butter. Add the lamb and brown an all sides. Add the drained beans, pork skin, trotter or hambone, carrots, celery, herbs, onions with cloves, salt and pepper, and cover generously with water. Simmer covered for about two hours or until the beans are cooked. Fry the chopped bacon in some olive oil, then add the chopped garlic and fry again briefly. Stir this mixture into the beans and cook gently for another 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

LANCASHIRE HOT-POT  (for 4)

4 chump chops

6 medium onions, peeled and sliced

800gr potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

stock

salt, pepper, oil, butter, thyme, bay-leaf, parsley

Cut any fat off the chops. Brown them in a mixture of oil and butter in an oven-proof casserole. Remove the chops and replace them with the onions, cooking until lightly coloured. Place the chops on top, together with the thyme, bay-leaf, salt and pepper. Pour in enough stock just to cover the meat. Bring to the boil, cover tightly and cook in a pre-heated medium oven for 1½ hours. Fry the potato slices in a mixture of oil and butter until beginning to go brown and almost cooked. Put half of them in an oven-proof dish, then add the lamb and onion mixture together with some more stock if it is dry. Spread the remainder of the potatoes on top and season with salt and pepper. Return to a hottish oven, uncovered, for a further half hour, or until nicely browned on top. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

 

MOROCCAN LAMB WITH OLIVES  (for 4)

600-800gr lean lamb, diced

2 onions, peeled and sliced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2.5cm ginger root, peeled and grated or finely chopped

1 pinch saffron

1 bay-leaf

½ teaspoon harissa paste or a big pinch of chilli powder

100gr pitted green olives, roughly chopped

2 preserved lemons, roughly chopped and any pips removed

olive oil, flour, salt, pepper

Coat the lamb in seasoned flour (by shaking it in a plastic bag with 2 tablespoons of flour and some salt and pepper). Melt the onion in some olive oil without browning, in an oven-proof casserole. Add the garlic, harissa, ginger, saffron and bay-leaf, and cook for a further few minutes. Add the lamb and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cover tightly. Cook for 1½ hours in an oven pre-heated to gas mark 2/150 C, adding more water if it gets too dry. Then add the olives, preserved lemons and salt and pepper to taste, returning to the oven for a further 20-30 minutes, or until the lamb is so tender that it can be broken with the side of a wooden spoon. Serve with rice or couscous.

 

  

 

PERSIAN LAMB WITH SABZI  (for 4)

This is a version of one of the dishes that expatriate Iranians always say that they yearn for. The fenugreek and dried limes are essential ingredients. The dried limes can be eaten, but need not be.

400gr lean diced lamb

50-100gr black-eyed beans

1-2 onions, peeled and chopped

1 bunch spring onions, roughly chopped

1 large bunch (2 handfuls) chopped green coriander, big stalks removed

1 handful parsley, chopped

4 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (or fresh if available)

4 dried limes

juice of 1 lime

salt, pepper, olive oil

Soak the lamb pieces for 20 minutes and dry them with kitchen paper. Melt the chopped onion in some olive oil without colouring. Add the lamb and brown on all sides. In a separate pan, sauté the spring onions and herbs in some more oilve oil for 10-20 minutes. Add the herbs to the lamb, together with the black-eyed beans, dried limes, salt, pepper and sufficient water to cover. Simmer, covered, for about 1½ -2 hours, until the beans are done, adding the limejuice about half an hour before the end.

(Some very small black-eyed beans on sale in the West only need about an hour to cook, which is not enough for the lamb. If in doubt, cook the black-eyed beans separately and add at the end.)

 

 

GREEK LAMB FRICASSÉ  (for 6-8)

1-1.2 kg diced lamb, as much fat as possible removed

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

Approx 750ml chicken stock (can be made with a stock cube)

2 bunches spring onions, trimmed and sliced into 2cm pieces

6-8 cooked artichoke bottoms or hearts (eg tinned or bottled, or preserved in oil

    without any vinegar), each cut into 4 pieces

1 cos lettuce, largest leaves removed, cut into 3cm slices

1- 1½ tablespoons flour, kneaded with the same amount of butter to make a

    beurre manié

4 tablespoons double cream

juice of one lemon

3 tablespoons chopped dill, salt, pepper

 

Put the lamb in a saucepan, cover generously with the stock and bring to the boil. Skim carefully until the surface is clear. Add the onion, celery and carrot. Cover and simmer for 1½ hours or until the lamb is meltingly tender and can be broken up with a wooden spoon (it can be prepared in advance up to this point). Skim any fat from the surface with kitchen paper. Add the spring onions and simmer for a further five minutes. Then add the artichokes and cos and simmer for 2 more minutes or until the lettuce is wilted.  Stir the beurre manié in pieces into the stew and bring it briefly back to the boil to thicken the sauce. Add the lemon juice, dill and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with boiled potatoes or rice.

 

To be more authentically Greek, the beurre manié and cream can be replaced with 3-4 egg yolks, which should be whisked together with the lemon juice to make an avgolemono sauce.  Gradually whisk in some of the hot juice from the lamb, then stir this mixture into the stew, reheating it briefly without letting it boil, stirring the while, so as to achieve a thickening effect.

 

This is part of Samuel Pepys' account of a visit he paid to a Portuguese Franciscan monastery in London on 23 January 1667. 

"I saw the Dortoire and the Cells of the priests, and we went into one - a very pretty litle room, very clean, hung with pictures - set with books. The priest was in his Cell - with his haircloths to his skin, bare-legged, and with a Sandall only on, and his little bed without sheets and with no feather bed; but yet I thought it saft [soft] enough. His Cord about his middle. But in so good company, living with care, I thought it a very good life. A pretty Library they have, and I was in the Refectoire, where every man his napkin - knife - cup of earth - and basin of the same - and a place for one to sit and read while the rest are at meals. And into the Kitchin I went, where a good neck of Mutton at the fire - and other victuals boiling - I do not think they feed very hard."

 

 

ROAST LAMB WITH ONION AND MUSHROOM  (for 6-8)

1.8 kg leg of lamb, boned and rolled

3 red onions, peeled and quartered

500gr mushrooms, halved or quartered

250ml red wine

250ml port, sweet madeira or marsala

salt, pepper, light cooking oil

Soften the onions and mushrooms with a little oil in a frying pan. Add the wine and port to the pan and reduce the liquid by half. Sear the lamb on all sides and place in a baking tray. Pour the wine, onion and mushroom mixture around it and season with salt and pepper. Cook in an oven pre-heated to 220º/gas mark 7 for about 1½ hours, basting two or three times with the liquid from the tray. Leave to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

 

 

 

 

SEVEN HOUR LAMB   (for 6-8)

1 smallish leg of lamb

1 head garlic

2 medium onions, peeled and quartered

6-8 carrots, peeled and chopped roughly

150ml dry white wine

half a star anise

salt, pepper, olive oil, parsley, thyme

Oil the lamb with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put in an oven-proof casserole with some thyme, the wine and 250ml water. Cover tightly (with foil and a lid) and cook for 2 hours in an oven pre-heated to 150º/gas mark 2. Add the onions, carrots, the head of garlic cut in half across the cloves, and the star anise and return to the oven, tightly covering again. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 100º/gas mark ¼ and leave to cook for another 4-5 hours. Remove the meat from the casserole, and skim off some of the fat from the juices.  Take the flesh (which should be meltingly tender) off the bones of the lamb and return it to the juices in the casserole. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with potatoes or white beans and salad.