Thursday, April 09, 2009

Stapling it Together

Today have chosen LAMB as the ingredient of the day as this is traditionally eaten at Easter. Although some of the recipes below use raw minced lamb, mince made from cooked lamb (leftovers) could be used instead, but would take less cooking time. With my cost-cutting to the fore as per usual, the dishes below are fairly cheap to make.

The first recipe is really two, one part makes the lamburgers (these can be cooked for longer as-is and eaten as any burger would be), in the second part they cook on nestled in the custard, allowing the lamb juices to seep into this to give added flavour. .
Baked Lamburgers with Yogurt: serves 4
1 lb (450g) minced lamb
salt and pepper
half tsp paprika
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
3 oz (75g) lard
1 tblsp finely chopped mint
1 bread roll, soaked in water and squeezed
4 eggs, beaten
12 fl oz (350ml) yogurt
1 extra tsp paprika
Season the meat generously with the salt, pepper and paprika and set aside. Put a little of the lard into a frying pan and fry until softened, then stir in the garlic and fry for one minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool, then mix into the meat with the mint and the bread. When thoroughly combined, divide into 8 equal portions and roll each into a burger shape.
Melt the remaining lard in the frying pan and when sizzling, place in the burgers. Cook over medium to high heat for about 3 minute on each side. They should be well browned on the outside, but still pink in the centre. Remove from the pan and arrange in a shallow baking dish.
Whisk the eggs and yogurt together, season to taste and stir in a spoonful of the fat from the pan. Pour this over the burgers. Blend another spoonful of fat with a teaspoon of paprika and sprinkle this on top. Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 1 hour or until the top is lightly browned. Serve immediately.

This next dish originated in Baghdad, and an interesting way to cook minced lamb with burghul wheat. As this wheat needs to be fairly finely ground, the coarser burghul can be whizzed in a blender or food processor to grind it down slightly.
Wheat 'n Meat: serves 4
1 lb (450g) lean minced lamb
7 oz (200g) burghul wheat, finest grind
20 fl oz ( 0.75 litre) cold water
1 onion, chopped
4 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper
ground turmeric
3 oz (75g) pine nuts
2 oz (50g) raisins (opt)
2 0z (50g) butter, melted
extra butter
Put the burghul into a bowl and pour over the water. Leave to soak for at least one hour.
Using a large frying pan, gently fry the onion in half the oil. Add a pinch of turmeric and a grind of pepper and stir occasionally until the onion is golden. Add 12 oz (350g) of the meat, stir and cook over medium heat, until all the liquid has gone and the meat cooked through, then add the pine nuts, raisins, and salt to taste. Mix well then remove from heat and leave to stand.
Drain the soaked burghul and, taking a handful at a time, squeeze dry. Put into a large bowl and add the remaining meat, adding seasoning, and mix well. Add the melted butter and (if necessary some cold water)to make a soft dough.
Generously grease an 11" x 7" (27 x 17cm) ovenproof dish. Put half the dough into the dish, flattening it to cover the base of the dish. Spread the cooked meat over this, then spoon the remaining dough on top and level it with a knife. Score the top in both directions to make 2" (5cm) squares, placing a dab of butter on each.
Tent lightly with foil then bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 40 minutes, then remove foil and continue baking for a further 15 - 20 minutes basting if necessary with a little melted butter and water to keep the inside moist. The top should be crisp. Serve hot with a crisp green salad.

It is the gravy in this next dish that is 'interesting', for not only does it turn left-0ver cooked mutton (or lamb) into something very palatable, it also makes use of a kidney, or piece of liver we may have in the freezer and never got around to using. Being me, once the gravy has been made, the kidney and liver (also carrots and onions) would then be added to other cooked vegetables and end up in a pie. Two for the price of one. Browning the flour gives a good colour to the gravy, and worth browning extra flour at the same time to store in an airtight container to use at a later date. If you don't wish to bother doing this, then a dash of gravy browning, or beef stock cube could be used to deepen the colour of the gravy.
Venison-style Mutton Hash: serves 4
1 lb (450g) cooked mutton or lamb
salt and (pref white) pepper
1 tblsp plain flour
mutton bones and trimmings
half pint (300ml) water
1 lamb's kidney, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 oz (50g) lamb's liver, chopped
1 tblsp redcurrant jelly
4 - 4 tblsp ruby port
Slice the cooked meat to 1/3" (8mm) thick, removing any fat. Brown the flour in a 200C /400F/gas 6 oven for five minutes. Add salt and pepper (to taste) to season the flour then dip the slices of meat into this, then place in a flame-proof dish or deepish frying pan.
Put the bones, trimmings into a saucepan with the kidney, shallot, carrot and liver, simmer - uncovered - for 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve and pour the gravy over the meat. Cover, and cook on the hob, barely simmering, for a good hour. Stir in the redcurrant jelly and then the port, and serve immediately.

Breast of lamb is not the most inspiring of meats, and to make it interesting we need to add plenty of flavourings. This recipe certainly pulls out all the stops. My mouth is already watering as I begin to read through the ingredients.
Lamb Breast with Chocolate: serves 4
1 breast of lamb
knob of lard
3 small onions
2 oz (50g) dried mushrooms
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch dried thyme
pinch dried oregano
1 bay leaf
5 fl oz (150ml) white wine
5 fl oz (150ml) water
2 oz (50g) coarsely ground almonds or hazelnuts
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
3 oz (75g) quality dark chocolate, grated
1 tblsp tomato puree
approx 1 pint (600ml) stock or water
Firstly, cover the dried mushrooms with water and leave to soak for 20 minutes, then drain and chop.
Put the ribs (lamb breast) under a hot grill and cook for 5 minutes or until the fat begins to flow, then place the breast in a deep pan (you may need to cut the ribs into two, and a deep frying pan might be the best choice) with the lard, onions, chopped mushrooms, the cinnamon and herbs. Cover and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, the stir in the wine, nuts, garlic, parsley, chocolate, tomato puree and enough stock or water to cover the meat. Cover and simmer for about an hour and a half or until the meat is very tender and the liquid reduced to a thick sauce.

The final recipe am including as the other day there was a request for recipes using chickpeas, and this Middle Eastern dish is a cross between a Lamb Couscous and a Tagine. Serving as many people as it does, it uses remarkably little meat, so a dish cheap to make, but wealthy in flavour.
Spicy Lamb with Chickpeas and More: serves 6
8 oz (225g) lamb, cubed
3 oz (75g) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight OR...
approx 8 oz (225g) cooked chickpeas
3 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 small aubergine, finely sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground allspice
1 cinnamon stick, broken into two
5 fl oz (150ml) red wine
1 x 400g (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
8 oz (225ml) rich vegetable or lamb stock
4 oz (100g) dried no-soak apricots
4 oz (100g) couscous (more if you wish)
3 oz (75g) flaked almonds or pistachio nuts
chopped fresh parsley
If cooking the chickpeas, drain after soaking, put in a pan with plenty of fresh water, cover and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. If using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse and drain again.
Fry the lamb in the oil until browned on all sides, then remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onion and aubergine to the pan and cook over high heat until golden, adding more oil if necessary. Stir in the spices and reduce heat to low. Cook for a further 2 minutes then return the lamb to the pan and add the wine. Bring to the boil, and simmer until the liquid has reduced right down. Keep scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to prevent the food sticking.
Stir in the tomatoes, stock, apricots and seasoning to taste, then add the drained chickpeas, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
After the above has been simmering for 15 minutes, put the couscous into a bowl and pour over boiling water to a couple of fingers above the surface, cover and leave to stand for 15 minutes. By this time all the water should have been absorbed, if not press through a sieveto extract as much as possible. Put the couscous into a warm bowl and sprinkle over a little olive oil, seasoning to taste, and add half the parsley. Fluff up with a fork, place in a shallow serving dish and top with the lamb 'stew'. Sprinkle over the remaining parsley.