Friday, 9 May 2014
Spiced Welsh shoulder of lamb and coriander casserole with Moroccan aubergine salad
Total prep and cooking time: 2 1/2 to 3 hours
This is a great little recipe if you want to knock up something really tasty for a group of 6 people (or 5 very hungry ones) who like their food with a strong flavour, without being hot or spicy. I've sort of made it up, to try and recreate something I once had in a seedy little north African cafe, up one of the side streets off the old harbour in Marseille. There's a big north African influence in Marseille as the port has always been a gateway to Africa. Then there is Frances' historical colonies in Morocco and Algeria, so in France you see Moroccan restaurants as regularly as you see Indian ones in the UK. This one was a bit different, as all the clientele were clearly of Moroccan/Algerian origin. Most of them crews off visiting boats. The food was absolutely great spiced up with the sensation that you could never be absolutely sure that you were not going to get your throat cut before the night was out.
Despite containing a long list of ingredients this is very simple and very quick to make dish (only about 30 mins preparation - the rest of the time it's in the oven to free up valuable aperitif time!!)
1 cucumber (skin peeled off)
A small handful of fresh coriander leaves finely chopped
Fresh mint leaves finely chopped (about half as much as coriander)
Fresh juice of half a lemon
A 200g pot of Greek Yogurt
Get your butcher to cut a Welsh Lamb shoulder off the bone, remove any surplus fat and cut into 1 1/2 " (4cms) cubes - giving you approximately 1 to 1.3 kilos
You might be tempted to buy a pack of "diced lamb" from the supermarket. Please don't. If you really want to taste how good a dish this simple can taste, don't skimp on proper ingredients
120g streaky bacon cut into thin chunks (and if it's dried out a bit because you didn't wrap it back up properly last time you used it - all the better for it)
2 sweet onions (or 4 long shallots) finely chopped
5 or 6 garlic cloves, crushed with the back of your knife, then finely chopped
30g anchovy fillets
1/2 tspn of ground ginger
1 tspn of ground cumin
1 tspn of ground coriander
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
2 sage leaves
Small handful of thyme (strip the leaves off the stems and only use the leaves)
A large glass of red wine
1/4 tspn of red wine vinegar
1 pint (500 ml) lamb or chicken stock
A table spoon of washed capers
The zest of 1 lemon
50g petit pois or small garden peas
small handful of fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
Salt, pepper and olive oil
Serve with couscous or rice.
A few bits of pre-work; take your shoulder of lamb dices, wash them, then salt them and set to one side. Similarly, take your aubergine, half it length ways, then half it again. Liberally salt it and also leave to one side. Leave both for about 20 minutes. After that, wash both so any surplus salt and the fluid which the salt has extracted is removed.
You will also need to pre-heat an over to 160 degrees C.
In a heavy pot of pan (with a lid), pour in a splash of olive oil and fry your streaky bacon for about 8 minutes or until crispy.Add your chopped onion and garlic and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
Add your lamb and cook until browned all over. Pour in the wine and wine vinegar and turn up the heat. Let the liquid in the pot reduce down to about 50% of what it was when you added the wine. Now add your stock and all the spices, leaves and herbs and grate in the zest of your lemon (keeping the rest of the lemon as you will need it add juice to your salad). Give the whole lot a stir, put the lid on your pot and let it come to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the hob. If your heavy pot is oven proof then happy days - just leave the lid on and pop it into the oven. If not, transfer your food to a casserole dish, cover, and then put into your pre-heated oven. Bake for about 2 hours. Keep checking every 20 minutes or so, to make sure that it is not drying out. If it does look dry, add more wine. You will not need to add your peas until 20 minutes before it is due to come out (1 hour 40 minutes into the cook).
Once the casserole is in the oven, get to work on the salad. First, cut your aubergine quarters into 1cm thick slices and fry in olive oil, turning until they are browned on both sides. Then set them to one side to cool. As you did with the aubergine, slice the cucumber length ways into quarters, then slice into 1cm thick chunks and place into a salad bowl. Once the aubergine slices are cold add them as well, with the chopped, fresh coriander leaves and mint leaves and a squirt of juice from the lemon. Spoon in the tub of Greek yogurt and give the whole lot a good stir so all the chunks and leaves are covered. Then cover your bowl and put it into the fridge until you are ready to serve up.
Once the casserole has been cooked for the 2 hours the sauce will be almost black from the slow cooking. Once you have pulled it out of the oven, finely chop up some fresh coriander leaves, chuck them in and give the whole thing a stir.
Finally, serve up the casserole from the oven to the table and the salad from the fridge with a big bowl of rice. Give everyone a bowl and a spoon and let them help them selves.
Lush! But be warned, it is very rich and very filling. You don't need much.