Friday, 13 December 2013

Dinner tonight - easy lamb tagine

A lamb tagine, but in this case not cooked in a tagine, as we currently dont have a kitchen, let alone a tagine, is one of may favorite easy meals.  It uses one pot, it does not take much of my time up and they taste amazing.  This is not really a recipe as I tend to do it differently every time, depending on how I am feeling and what we have in.  It was about time that I  tried out some of the lamb that I butchered last week.

I have started by toasting some spices in a heavy pan, slowly, as I did not wish to burn them.  I did this while making an omelet for my lunch.  I have used, cinnamon, cumin, coriander steads, black pepper and 3 cloves. 

I like to then grind my spices by hand in a pestle and mortar.  I think it is really worth spending some time doing this rather than using a machine or using pre-ground spices.  I have then chopped a few vegitables, onion, carrot, celery, lots of garlic and some ginger into a heavy pot with a lid.  I have rubbed my lamb in the spice mix, which is sifted to remove any larger lumps.  The lamb is then added to the pot along with a good handful of prunes and I mix everything around a bit with my hands.

I need to add some liquid to start things off, I could just use water, but as I have some fresh lamb stock left over from butchering the lambs, I will add a bit of that too.  the cut of lamb I have used is a really cheap cut.  It is the top four ribs including the breast bone.  I'm not even sure if a butcher would sell this bit, but it has loads of gelatin and connective tissue that is going to make an amazing gravy during a long slow cooking.

I double seal my pot with foil and a lid to make sure that a little moisture as possible is going to escape. Then I will put in the oven on a low, 120°C, for as long as I can leave it for, but at least 3 hours.  If I only have 3 hours then I will turn it up for the last hour to make sure the meat is really well cooked.  As long as the first hour or so of cooking is very slow, the proteins will already have cooked and tenderised at the low temperature, you can then safely turn up the oven and finish if quicker without the risk of the meat being tough.

So far, this is all that is finished in our kitchen.  We have a couple of gas rings in the basement, but looking forward to moving up here in a few weeks.  I'm really happy with, what must be my best ever ebay purchase, this Lacanche oven is as quality piece of kit.  This one is probably 15 years old, has no numbers readable on the dials, but in the few times I have used it, I have already grown to love it.

3 hours of cooking and the meat is soft and along with the vegetables have melted into an amazing looking and smelling gravy.

To this I add have added a 250 g bag of couscous.  At this point I put it back in the oven and turn it off, leaving it in the warm oven for another 15 minutes will be enough for all the juices to have been soaked up by the couscous and cooked it through.

I'm very happy with this years lamb and cooked like this, it was really special.  I cant get over the colour of the meat and how much flavor it's got.  I have never managed to buy a piece of lamb this good, but it has been a year of work in the making.