Saturday, 24 January 2009

Casseroled Lamb

We don't often eat red meat. It's not a health thing or a cost issue, but we don't have an obsessive carnivorous urge that drives us to eat it often. My husband is not your typical man who would happily, every day, down a juicy steak with blood oozing from it and I can quite happily leave the big beast meals for special occasions too. In fact we can get through just over a week without having chewed on the flesh of some animal, so we could actually pass as vegetarians!
But today I quite fancied some lamb and after some consultation with hubby, it was agreed.

It's that time of year when the cold, damp days have one longing for some comfort food, so something like a stew… er, sorry casserole is called for. I hesitated there for a moment, because it is a sin to mention 'stew' in our house. For my husband, it has all the wrong connotations and to him, it deems a meal unfit for human consumption. I think there's some bad childhood memories that come back to haunt him. So 'casserole' it is.

I love lamb when it's cook slowly until the meat is so soft and melting that you could eat it it with a spoon.

I made quite a simple recipe, not many ingredients but the end result is rich and tasty.

First I took an onion, a carrot and a stick of celery and cut them into a fine dice and sauteed them in some olive oil with a clove of crushed garlic and two whole star anise for a couple of minutes. I then tipped them into my casserole pot.

Next I took some lamb leg steaks and cut them into large chunks and then lightly coated them in plain flour. I then placed them in a hot frying pan with olive oil and sealed them until they were brown all over. These went into the pot too.

Then I deglazed the pan with a good splosh of red wine followed by some stock and poured that into the pot as well.

Then I mixed everything together in the pot with a generous grind of black pepper, some salt and finally a small bunch of fresh thyme which I pushed well down to allow it infuse its flavours.

I put on the lid and this all went into a preheated oven, Gas 3, for 2 hours or so.

I checked it now and again and stirred in a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly towards the end of the cooking time. I also added some cornflour mixed with a little water to thicken and placed it back in the oven while I prepared the mashed potatoes.

Just before serving, I removed the thyme stalks.

Well, Mr Spouse enjoyed it very much – so success!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Cleaning Up

One thing I’ve learnt is, when using the food processor to chop up meat or fish or anything containing eggs, is never to immerse it in hot water when I’ve finished.
The rule is, if it's protein based, the remnants will instantly cook and adhere to the surfaces making it very difficult to clean. Not being a Stepford Housewife, washing up is not a favourite past time, so I quickly worked out that rinsing with cold water first is the best course of action. Oh yes, flour reacts in much the same way, so the same rules apply. Please excuse me for adding this piece of information to my 
Tasty Tips. I’m sure you all know how to wash up, but it’s one of those things that could be vital to someone, assisting them in kitchen survival. After all, we want to spend more time making delicious food rather than being up to our armpits in dirty dishes!
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