Lamb Mezze – or the Lamb That Kept on Giving

Saturday’s slow roast Leg of Lamb kept on giving today with its third offering. This time as part of a mezze from Ottlenghi’s Plenty cookbook.

Yesterday we had Lamb Ragu with pasta. It really wasn’t worth the picture or talking about as I just boiled up some pasta and added a good amount of lamb and the red wine sauce left over from Saturday’s epic dinner.

Two types of lamb featured today; the Leg meat (simply reheated in the oven) and the spicy minced lamb (left over from the Minced Stuffed Aubergine dish we made last week). I have the say the lamb leg was just as tender and juicy as it was when it was first cooked.

Accompanying the leftovers were Fried tomatoes and Garlic from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. Very little to this really; I just pricked some fancy Natoora tomatoes and all the available parsley stalks and fried them for a minute or so with olive oil and sea salt. After taking them off the heat I added some more parsley, a couple of red chillis and some grated garlic. And that was that. 10 minutes to make this max!

The salad (in the centre of the picture) we’ve had before. Also from Jerusalem it’s called Baby Spinach with dates and almonds. I love it. It conforms for Ottolenghi’s preferred ‘all salads need nuts and fruit’ rule. It’s another really easy dish which you can adapt to whatever you’ve got. I’ve made it with apricots before, added sultanas, and even dried cherries. Any nuts will do too; I’ve made it with hazelnuts and walnuts before. Chopped apple also works well.

Here some dates and some red onion are pickled for a short while in white wine vinegar and a little salt. You really don’t need those expensive Medjool dates; just get the cheap and cheerful ones and quarter them lengthways. Once they’ve been pickling they’ll soften up nicely.

While that’s pickling melt some butter and oil in a pan and tear in a couple of pitta bread (or even some regular bread that isn’t as fresh as it could be) and some chopped skin on almonds. Keep it moving in a hot pan until it gets golden and crunchy then take it off the heat and add some sumac, chilli flakes and salt. I added some more of my friend Becca’s Preserved lemon salt as it gives everything extra punch!

After letting it cool a bit – you don’t want to wilt the spinach – throw this bread mixture on top of the spinach and then the red onion and dates. Finish it off with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

I think this is one of the best salads I’ve ever made – and it goes with just about anything.

Finally I made a quick tzatsiki by grating half a cucumber into some yoghurt and stirring in some chopped mint and a bit of sea salt.

We loved this dinner. Freya said it was the best meal to come from the Leg of Lamb; and as you can see there was way too much for 2 people to eat. Six pitta breads went into this dinner! 2 in the salad and two that we stuffed with the mezze.

We will inevitably be having it all again tomorrow for lunch, meaning we’ll have gotten 8 meals out of one leg of lamb. Now that’s resourcefulness for you!

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!

Thrown together Spaghetti in a Smoky Tomato Sauce with Bacon and Chorizo

I had plans for dinner yesterday but time got away from me and I didn’t make it to the shops to get ingredients.  A quick nose through the fridge and the cupboards and I saw I had everything to throw this together.  It was pretty simple.

Fry some smoked bacon and chorizo and put to one side, leaving all the oils from the meat in the pan.  Fry some onions, add garlic, celery, grated carrot, tinned tomatoes and a little smoked paprika and leave bubbling away for 30 minutes or so.

Meanwhile cook your spaghetti. When it’s ready drain and pour into a serving dish. Pour the tomato sauce over the top and then the bacon and chorizo.  Mix it all together and hey presto – a simple meal from the cupboard.

A simple yummy fix me up when you don’t feel like following a recipe from a book.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow!

Left Over Chicken Curry and Brown Rice

Having spent all weekend sanding, dyeing and lacquering the boat floors (not to mention tiling and grouting the wet room) we needed to put the living room and kitchen back the way it was on Monday evening.

Without a kitchen the plan for dinner was chicken wraps; with a cooked chicken from the supermarket and a load of salad. As nice as it was we were just being practical and quick – and there was a lot of chicken left over.

But what to do with the other half of the chicken?

The Guardian ran an article about 27 things to do with left over chicken. This curry was first on the list. There were many other lovely recipes in the article but I had all the ingredients for the curry. I may revisit them another time!

The curry is pretty simple and very low in fat. I don’t usually make curry (even though I love spicy foods) as Freya isn’t a big fan of spicy food and I always tend to fail in making something mild enough for her. This one looked like it might suit us both.

For this one you slowly sweat some onions and then add garlic and fresh ginger and sweat some more.

Add a mix of ground spices including cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, chilli powder and make sure all the onions are coated.

Add chopped fresh tomatoes and chicken stock, bring to be boil and simmer for 10 minutes or so.

Stir in the cooked chicken and once it had warmed through stir in a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt.

Serve with some fresh chopped coriander and some rice.

I really liked this curry. The yoghurt made it very creamy and rich- just without the cream.

It was a little bit too spicy for Freya. I think it was the fresh ginger – it didn’t bother me though. Perhaps halving the ginger might be in order next time.

It’s certainly one that I’m going to squirrel away for other leftover days.