From The Scotsman
Winter Navarin of Lamb
You can ring the changes with this extremely good winter stew by varying the root vegetables in its ingredients.
• 3 tablespoons flour
• 1 teaspoon flaky salt
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 3lb/1.35kg boned leg of lamb meat, weighed when trimmed and cut into 1½ in/4cm chunks
• 6 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
• 8 banana shallots, each skinned and cut in half lengthways (or 16 smaller ones, skinned and left whole)
• 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
• 2 carrots, 2 parsnips, 1 celeriac, 1/2 turnip (swede), all with their skins cut off or peeled, and cut into similar-sized chunks
• 3 tablespoons tomato purée
• 2 pints/1.14 litres beef stock, or use vegetable stock instead
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 sprig of thyme about 3in/7cm long
• 1½ lb/675g potatoes, weighed when peeled and cut into 1in/2.5cm chunks
• extra salt and pepper, if needed
Put the flour, salt and pepper into a large polythene bag and toss the trimmed lamb in this, until each piece of meat is well coated. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole and brown the meat in relays, browning very well, and sprinkling in a little granulated sugar with each batch - this helps both the colour and taste of the finished navarin. As the meat is browned, remove it to a warmed dish. Then, adding a little more oil to the casserole if needed, sauté the shallots over a moderate heat until they are beginning to turn golden. Add the garlic and the rest of the vegetables, and stir all together well in the oil, and cook for a few minutes. Mix the tomato purée into the stock and pour this liquid into the casserole. Heat, stirring and scraping the base of the pan to make sure the vegetables don't stick, until the liquid is simmering gently. Add the bay leaves and thyme, and replace the meat in among the vegetables. Bring the liquid back to the simmer, cover with a lid, and place in a moderate oven, 350°F/175°C/Gas Mark 4, for one hour. Take it out of the oven, cool and store in a cold place. To reheat, add the potatoes to the casserole, reheat until the liquid is simmering, then cover with the lid once more and cook in a moderate oven, as before, for a further 45 minutes. Test a piece of potato to see if it is tender. Serve, removing the bay leaves and thyme, if you can see where they are.
Braised Lamb, Potatoes, Aubergines, Red Peppers and Chilli with Garlic and Coriander
This has a most delicious sauce mixed through the cooked braised vegetables just before serving.
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2lb/900g lamb, preferably shoulder meat, weighed when trimmed
• 11/2 lb/675g potatoes, peeled - or scrubbed, if you want to keep their skins on - and diced quite small
• 2 medium aubergines, ends cut off and the aubergines cut into small dice
• 2 red onions, skinned and sliced thinly
• 2 red peppers, cut in half, seeds removed and the peppers cut into thin strips
• 1 mild fresh green chilli, cut in half, seeds removed and the chilli chopped finely - wear rubber gloves when preparing the chilli
• 3 to 4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped - seeds and all
• a good grinding of rock salt and plenty of black pepper
For the sauce:
• 5 tablespoons olive oil
• 6 cloves of garlic, skinned and finely chopped
• a grinding of rock salt
• 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• a large handful of parsley 2 handfuls of coriander
In a large sauté pan or flameproof casserole, heat the three tablespoons of olive oil and brown the lamb thoroughly. Remove to a warm dish. Add the potatoes and cook them for about ten minutes, till they are turning brown at the edges. Add the diced aubergine, then the sliced red onions, and cook until they are soft. Alternatively, toss the cubes of aubergine in olive oil and roast them with the sliced onions in the oven. When soft, combine all the vegetables in the sauté pan and add the pepper strips, the chilli and the tomatoes. Season with salt. Sauté for a further five minutes, or so, then add 1/2 pint/285ml water. Return the lamb to the pan, cover with the lid, and turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Braise the meat and vegetables for 11/2 hours, stirring the contents from time to time.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Either pounding in a pestle and mortar or using a food processor, smash the garlic cloves to a paste with the salt, paprika and cumin seeds. Beat in the parsley and coriander - this is easiest in a processor if you haven't already chopped the herbs - along with the olive oil and the lemon juice.
Check the sauté pan after 1½ hours and, if any liquid remains, remove the lid and boil it off. Then stir in the sauce mixture, making sure you coat all the vegetables and lamb thoroughly. Taste, and add more salt or lemon juice if you think it is needed. Serve.
Irish stew with black pudding
You really can't overcook this. More importantly - and more than with any other casserole - it is imperative to allow time to cook, cool and reheat it. The flavour is so very much better.
Serves 6 to 8
• 2lb/900g neck of lamb, with as much fat trimmed off as possible
• 8oz/225g black pudding, diced
• 3 onions, skinned and sliced
• 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
• 6 fair-sized potatoes, peeled and sliced
• salt and plenty of black pepper
Layer the prepared meat and vegetables in a heavy casserole, ending with potatoes on the top. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in cold water to come level with the top of the last layer. Cover with a lid and cook in a moderate oven, 350°F/175°C/Gas Mark 4, for two hours, then reduce the temperature to 300°F/150°C/Gas Mark 2 and cook for a further hour. Take out of the oven and cool completely. When it is cold, skim off any fat from the surface. Cook for a further 1½ hours in a moderate oven. Remove the casserole lid for the last three-quarters of an hour of cooking time.