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Posts Tagged ‘lamb tagine’

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This simple North African lamb stew, spotted years ago in Frances Bissell’s The Pleasures of Cookery (great title), is a handy winter dish for companybut I haven’t made it for a while.

Six French friends are coming to lunch tomorrow so I’m preparing it today. That way the taste should deepen while the panic levels lighten in the morning.

I once cooked this and was puzzled by the reduced volume–much less than usual. Then I spotted the bowl of beans hiding in full view on the counter–I’d forgotten to put them in!

All the ingredients, save the meat, looking eager to get started.

for 8

1 boned lamb shoulder (about 2k/4lb meat)–cut up into bite size (1″ish) pieces

lamb

3 tbs olive oil

4 garlic cloves–peeled & chopped

3 onions–sliced

1 1/2 tsp each whole cumin seeds

1 1/2 whole coriander seeds

24 dried apricots*–halved (the yellow ones show up prettier than the untreated variety I normally like)

1 1/2 pints stock–I use organic vegetable cubes

2 large tins (cans) of flageolet beans (little green ones)–drained

salt and pepper

A bunch of fresh coriander (or parsley)–chopped

Heat the oven at 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.

Seal the meat in the hot olive oil, using a large frying pan–(you will probably have to do this in batches).

cooked lamb

When nicely browned, remove it to the ovenproof casserole from which you will serve it.

Gently fry the onions and garlic in the fat and oil left in the pan, without browning them.

onions
Fold in the whole spices and let them cook a little.
Add almost all the stock and let it reduce a bit.

Add the apricots.

Season this mixture well, with salt and pepper and pour it into the casserole.

Add a handful of coarsely chopped parsley or coriander.

In a separate pan heat the drained beans with the remaining  stock.

When hot, add the beans with the stock to the casserole and turn everything over carefully.

Bring it all to a simmer on the top of the stove, then cover and place the casserole on a low shelf in the oven.

Cook for about 2 hours, checking after an hour to see if it needs topping up with stock—being careful not to lose the intensity of the sauce.

Serve over bulgar wheat–or if you prefer, cous cous or basmati brown rice.

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Remembered the beans this time!

* Dried apricots are especially suitable for anyone, like me, watching blood sugar levels. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/apricots-blood-sugar-9889.html

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When I woke up this morning Pippa–mother of all cats–was there on the bed as she has been for the last two days. She was at her toilet–conscientiously licking her paw, then wiping her cheeks and ear with it–a built-in flannel [washcloth] so to speak.

It reminded me I hadn’t shaved for two days–I’d been laid up with a “gastro“, which had started at roughly 1.30am on the morning after my birthday.

The only other time I remember being as sick (literally) was the day I was filming the dénouement scene in an episode of Sherlock Holmes. I had a long speech of explanation to deliver to a solemn, suspicious and silent Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke and a very young  Jude Law. I managed the first take without interruption–but had to RUN on the word CUT –and it was a bumpy ride ’til we finished.

Two nights ago at least I had no lines to remember. My timing was better on this occasion! The birthday was over and had been much enjoyed. Meredith gave me an album–cataloguing the story of an eventful year–superb photos mostly taken by her.

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Pippa looking for a photo of herself.

Looking back on my birthday though, there were signs of trouble ahead.

I remember feeling relieved I had planned ahead and prepared the Lamb Tagine (see recipe below) the day before. That left the broccoli starter and the bulgar wheat–simple!

We were eight round the table–old friends–including my old adversary from Poldark days, Donald Douglas (aka Captain McNeil). It was convivial. I was enjoying the occasion.

It was only late the next day that I realised I had forgotten an essential step in the preparation of the starter–grilling the broccoli (see below). As I served up the dish, I had a nagging feeling something was not quite right! (We have a tradition of forgetting key ingrediants when entertaining for crowds!).

PLUS I forgot to prepare the bulgar wheat, so the table had to wait while it fluffed up.

The recipes:

This dish also served as the starter for the special Saturday dinner on my October Cooking Workshop:

It is adapted from a recipe in Ottolenghi’s eponymous first cookbook.

On that night it tumbled over a small pile of salad leaves–radiccio, rocket, lettuce–dressed with olive oil lemon juice and salt.

Here it is on a bed of Sam Talbot’s Quinoa.

1lb broccoli–broken into bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

garlic cloves–sliced as thin as you can

2 fresh red chilis, medium hot–de-seeded and sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil

lemon sliced very thin

  • Steam the broccoli–more than blanched less than tender–still crunchy in other words.
  • Remove to a bowl and pour over 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt.
  • Heat a grill to hot.
  • Scatter the broccoli over it and colour lightly. [Don’t FORGET this step!]

  • Return to the serving bowl.
  • Heat the second batch of oil.
  • When hot cook the garlic slices and the chili until the garlic takes on some color.

  • Pour this mixture over the broccoli.
  • Add the lemon slices and mix in carefully.
  • Serve on a bed of salad leaves dressed with  olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

Lamb Tagine with dried apricots & flageolet beans

(Reproduced from Delicious Dishes for Diabetics p 138)

This superb dish for company is adapted from one in Frances Bissell’s exceptional book The Pleasures of Cookery.

for 6/8

2 kg/41⁄2 lb boned shoulder of lamb–cut away as much fat as possible, ending up with about 1.5 kg/31⁄2 lb lean lamb, cut into 2 cm/1 inch cubes

3 tbsp olive oil
3 onions–sliced
4 cloves of garlic–chopped
11⁄2 tsp cumin seeds
11⁄2 tsp coriander seeds
850 ml/11⁄2 pints/31⁄2 cups stock--I use organic vegetable stock cubes
24 dried apricots–halved (use the yellow ones as they show up better in the sauce later)
salt and pepper
parsley, or even better coriander–chopped
1 large tin flageolet beans–drained and rinsed

  1. Heat the oven at 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Seal the meat in hot oil, using a large frying pan; when nicely browned, remove it to the ovenproof casserole you will serve it from.
  3. Gently fry the onions and garlic in the fat and oil left in the pan without browning them.
  4. Fold in the whole spices and let them cook a little.
  5. Add almost all the stock, leaving just enough in which to heat up the beans, and let it reduce a bit.
  6. Add the apricots. Season this mixture and pour it into the casserole.
  7. Add a handful of parsley or coriander.
  8. Heat the beans in a little stock and when hot add to the casserole. Turn everything over carefully.
  9. Bring it all to a simmer and place it on a low shelf in the preheated oven.
  10. Cook for 2 hours, checking after an hour to see if it needs topping up with stock – being careful not to lose the intensity of the sauce.
  11. Serve over bulgar wheat [Which you’ve remember to prepare!]

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