Pan-fried mackerel with golden beetroot and orange salsa & Basmati & wild rice with chickpeas, currants & herbs

Nice snappy title! fish, salad and rice probably would have done.

We rarely have fish. In fairness before lockdown we barely had meat either. But doing the vegetarian and vegan thing is a harder work when you struggle for availability of items and also need to keep them ‘alive’ and fresh for 2-3 weeks.

So for lockdown we aren’t trying too hard to be vegetarian. There are bigger things to worry about; so meat and fish are back on the table. This is the first fish dish I’ve cooked this year (I think).

Both dishes (the rice dish is a completely separate dish) are from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. This is a great book indeed and I never tire of cooking from it.

The mackerel is marinated in harissa, cumin and salt. I used rose harissa as we seem to have 3 jars of it. While it infuses into the fish, boil some beetroots (golden ones), then when the are cold, dice them with oranges, lemons, olives, herbs and chilli flakes – and a good glug of oil.

When the salad is ready, get a pan REALLY hot and add the mackerel for less than a minute (it says longer but I disagree), take the pan off the heat, then serve it with the salad. We added the rice as it didn’t feel like a complete meal.

The rice is pretty epic. Just rice is never a good side. This rice has Wild rice (which takes forever to cook) basmati rice, and chickpeas, as well as curry powder, onions and lots of herbs. Oh and currants – the currants make this dish. The recipe asks you to cook the wild rice first then the basmati separately, but I cheated somewhat, guessed when the wild rice had 12 mins to go and chucked the basmati in with it. Obviously this could have been a fail but it worked out fine.

This rice would be perfect for any dish I think – or BBQ if we ever get outside with friends again!

Freya wasn’t a fan of the beetroot and citrus salad. I lapped it up – thought the two things went really well together. The mackerel was a triumph too. The rice I will make over and over!

We still have many meals on the list before our 10th May Ocado delivery. Watch this space for more yummy stuff!

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!