Food of the Month: Lamb
I’ve picked something that isn’t perhaps considered very seasonal (it’s generally more associated with Spring) – but if I had picked Brussels sprouts, how long would you have kept reading!? Instead, I’ve gone for a traditional, tasty meat that is good all year round (throw it on the barbecue on the Summer for an alternative to beefburgers): lamb.
Not a fan of turkey for Christmas? Pick up a leg or rack of lamb rather than chicken, and you’ve got an instant Christmas Day winner.
There are several cuts of lamb, all of which benefit from their own way of being cooked. Shanks, leg or racks are perfect for warming Winter dinners, whilst neck, shoulder and loins are ideal for versatile all-year-round meals. You can get a good idea of what to do with each cut from the BBC website:
There are hundreds of ways to flavour lamb – from spiced to fruity to mild. This meat is so versatile, it’s perfect for experimenting. Try slow-roasting with a sticky pomegranate glaze (lots of time needed), home-smoked with a salad (ideal in the Summer), or throw it in a rogan josh for a spicy night in (serve with lots of yoghurt to cool it down).
The recipe I’ve chosen is a family favourite. Warming but refreshingly light, this dish is perfect for family meals – and for next day’s lunch if you have any left after!
Moroccan Lamb – serves eight
You will need:
- Flameproof casserole dish
- 2 saucepans
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) boneless shoulder of lamb, cut in to chunks
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic gloves, finely chopped
- 200g (8oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots, halved
- 200g (8oz) stoned and ready-to-eat prunes, halved
- 700ml (1.25 pints) hot lamb stock
- 6 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon – grated rind and juice
- 4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander
- 1-2 tsp harissa
To make the saffron rice:
- 0.5 tsp saffron strands
- Knob of butter
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, halved lengthways
- 450g (1lb) Basmati rice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick, halved
How to do it:
Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan) or gas mark 4.
Mix the spices with salt and pepper and rub in to the lamb chunks. Heat the oil in the casserole dish and brown the lamb (around 2-3 minutes). Add the onions and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened, then add the apricots, prunes, hot stock and tomatoes and bring to the boil.
Cover and transfer to the oven for 1 and a half to 2 hours until the meat is tender.
To make the rice: bring 850ml (1.5 pints) of slightly salted water to the boil. Add the saffron and remove from the heat, cover and infuse for an hour.
In another pan, melt the butter and cook the onion in it until softened and brown (around 10 minutes).
Add in the garlic and rice and stir over a heat for 30 seconds. Stir in the saffron water, bay leaf and cinnamon and bring to the boil.
Let the rice simmer for 12-15 minutes before draining and serving.
Once the meat is ready, add the lemon juice and rind and coriander and stir thoroughly.
Spoon out the rice (take out the bay leaf and cinnamon!) and add the lamb. Top with a tiny sprinkle of harissa for flavour.
Often we just make plain old rice if we’re shorter on time, but the saffron rice gives the meal a whole new level of flavour. If you have any left over for lunches, try serving it over a jacket potato (much tastier than beans!)