Sunday, 16 March 2008

Moroccan style lamb with dates, prunes and apricots

I'm completely converted to cooking with meat on the bone. It's cheaper and it's much, much tastier. True, it's a bit more work. It also tends to be fattier so you have to make your stew, cool it, take the meat off the bone (not essential but people find it off-putting and it looks a whole lot better), refrigerate it and skim off the fat but you're left with a really fantastic meal for the following day(s) which need no effort or last-minute attention.

I cooked the lamb knuckles I brought back from Wales with some Moroccan-ish spicing, root veg and dried fruits and have to say it was quite delicious. There was enough meat on each knuckle for two so the five I bought (for a fiver) made enough for eight to ten - a great all-in-one meal for a crowd. I served it with roast carrots and parsnips seasoned with crushed coriander seeds and couscous into which I'd forked through some chopped parsley and almonds. Here's the recipe:

Moroccan-style lamb with dates, prunes and apricots
serves 8-10
5-6 lamb knuckles(about 2kg meat in total)
Pinch of saffron (optional - good if you have some)
600ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp light olive or sunflower oil
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp Moroccan spice mix*
1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp passata or juice from a tin of tomatoes
250g mixed dried fruit including prunes, apricots and dates, larger pieces cut into half
2 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme, marjoram or oregano
1 small to medium (125ml-150ml) glass of red wine or stock
2 heaped tbsp chopped parsley or coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

With a sharp knife trim any obvious excess fat off the lamb knuckles. (Don’t worry too much, you’re skimming the stew later on). Infuse the saffron, if using, in the hot stock). Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or sauté pan and fry the onions and carrots over a low heat until starting to soften. Add the garlic and spices, stir then stir in the passata and stock. Add the lamb knuckles, mixed fruit and thyme and bring bring slowly to the boil then turn the heat right down and simmer for 2 hours. The liquid probably won’t cover the meat at this stage so you may need to turn the lamb knuckles every half hour or so. Cool the stew, removing the meat and bigger chunks of vegetable before it’s completely cold. Chill the liquid then skim off the fat. Cut the meat off the bones, removing any remaining skin or connective tissue, cut into large chunks, and return to the pan along with the skimmed liquid and a glass of red wine or stock. Reheat gently. Season with salt and pepper and an extra pinch of cinnamon if you think it needs it.

Oh, and I made a Spanish-style tapas dish of kidneys in sherry, padded out with some mushrooms which served four. (A medium dry Montilla is an excellent cheap alternative to sherry if you don't have any)

No comments: