Very Slow Cooked Lamb

In a change to the regularly scheduled Sunday Zoom call cook-along with Freya’s parents we decided to shift to Saturday for a change. Nothing like a bit of variety during these challenging lockdown times.

Mine was slow cooked in the over for 7+ hours; Freya’s mum did hers in her outside log powered pizza oven.

I’ve made this recipe up, and although you can’t see it yet (picture to follow shortly), the lamb was cooked in a traditional red wine sauce – which I’ll get to in a minute.

Main inspiration for this dish (rather than the Ottolenghi lamb dish we did a few weeks ago) was the rapidly fading vegetables we had knocking about, and my inability to throw any food away that isn’t already walking to the compost bin by itself. We also had a 3/4 full open bottle of red wine, and some stock that I made from the carcass of Ottolenghi’s Soffrito chicken. Together these ingredients were bound to make a good sauce.

Prep for mine started the day before. I stabbed the lamb (and it was a very big lump of lamb) with a sharp knife and filled every stab hole with a chuck of garlic and some rosemary. I then rubbed some of the salt from my friend Becca’s homemade Preserved Lemons over the lamb and left it for a good 12-18 hours.

The next morning I started dinner (it was around 9:30am and we were going to eat around 6pm)

In a large saucepan I added some olive oil and browned off the leg of lamb on a high heat, to get some colour on it – and to release some of the meat juices into the pan. I then put the meat to one side.

In the same pan I fried off some diced carrot, onions, celery and garlic then added all the leftover wine, all the leftover stock, two tins of chopped tomatoes and some tomato puree. I had some left over thyme in the fridge which was borderline so this went in too. I brought this too the boil, let it blip for a while and they poured it all over and around the lamb and popped it in the oven at 160 degrees (uncovered) – and that was basically it!

I only seasoned with pepper as I thought I’d used enough salt already on the lamb and didn’t want to ruin it.

After about 4 hours it started looking a bit dark so I turned the lamb over in the sauce and covered it in a sheet of tinfoil.

After 7 hours it looked pretty epic (as you can see in the picture). I separated the sauce from the meat and blitzed the sauce in the Thermomix to made a rather thick and very very tasty Ragu like wine sauce. Traditionally you’d remove the veg by straining off the liquid to leave a glossy sauce. I don’t really do refined and I prefer a thicker sauce with this sort of meal.

We had about 20% of this melt in the mouth, falling apart lamb with the Ragu sauce, mashed potatoes and garlicky Cavolo Nero.

Our Scotty dog Bruce was very pleased with the lamb bone too – it kept him busy for hours.

A very successful meal indeed. We used up all the borderline veg, leftover wine and stock and probably have enough Ragu sauce and lamb to have it with some pasta today – and perhaps the next couple of days too!

Freya is now making Tattie scones with the leftover mash potatoes. We don’t throw anything away in this house!

Ten Minute Tiramisu

Weekends during lockdown are now a regular excuse to do a cook-along with Freya’s parents. We’ve done a few now and this week we both cooked leg of lamb (more on that in another post).

The In-Laws advocate that all meals have a starter and a dessert. We don’t tend to bother so we patiently waited for them to eat their beetroot, goats cheese, and salmon blinis before tucking into the main event.

After some lengthy shouting into computers we were ready to down tools until Mummy Two Two whipped out a Tiramisu and made Freya wish she could have some.

As luck would have it we had a packet of sponge fingers left over from Christmas. We were going to make Jamie’s Christmas dinner (in it’s entirety) but we didn’t get round to making his dessert.

So this was a bit freestyle but seemed to work. I whisked 4 heaped teaspoons of instant coffee, caster sugar and some very hot water with an electric food mixer until the sugar dissolved (this is the beginnings of a Dalgona coffee – but that’s for another time). To the coffee mix add some brandy then pour it over the sponge fingers.

While the fingers are absorbing all the coffee and brandy goodness, whip together a tub of marscapone cream, some double cream, vanilla bean paste and caster sugar until it comes too (careful not to split it).

Next grate some chocolate (traditionalists say to sift cocoa powder but I didn’t do this). We used Tony’s Chocolonely Dark Milk.

Finally layer the fingers, the cream and the chocolate.

It obviously isn’t a Tiramisu that the Italians will approve of – but for 10 minutes it wasn’t bad.

I imagine the 80% of it that is left will mature nicely in the fridge. I intend to add a coffee foam to my next portion. Simply whisk the same quantities of coffee, sugar and very hot water AGAIN but this time keep going for 3 or 4 minutes until soft peaks form. Spooning this over the tiramisu is bound to make it taste better. Alternatively just spoon it over iced milk.

The Pork Belly cook-along

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My birthday promised to be a very uninteresting affair with just my wife, myself and our dog (yes we now have a dog!) at home; no friends, no family – all thanks to lockdown in the UK.

Our very good friends Vicky and Dan suggested we do a cook-along Zoom call. Zoom is the new norm for 2020, web calls to friends instead of meeting them in a pub for a cheeky pint or many…

We settled on both cooking the same pork belly dish, so in the end it was more of a ‘leave it in the oven for many hours’ and just chat and catch up. 4-5 hours in fact.

This pork belly dish is from Tapas Revolution; the recipe is publicly available on their website:

https://www.tapasrevolution.com/recipesomar/2017/10/19/torreznos-con-mojo-dulce-slow-cooked-pork-belly

It is a very simple dish to make. In fact the hardest part was finding someone that sold pork belly. We had to settle for strips from Ocado (they are doing sterling work during the lockdown), and this did not spoil the dish at all.

Simply rub the pork belly with salt, pour a bottle of beer over your pork belly and leave in the oven while you go about your business. No checking required – just leave it to do its thing.

When 5 hours have passed – or somewhere in between make the Mojo Dulce sauce. This is somewhat more complicated but well worth doing properly. Throw in some new potatoes and serve when they are cooked through.

As with all cook-alongs (we’ve done a couple with my in-laws) timing is everything. Both being ready to eat at the same time is an art form. Vicky and Dan’s sauce was beautifully blended – mine was somewhat more rustic! The sauce was finished off properly on my side the next day and had with the leftovers.

I can thoroughly recommend making this if you’re prepared to sacrifice a beer to the oven gods.