First of all a very happy new year to you all. I hope you had a good Christmas and have managed to wade through the leftovers!
You might indeed wonder what I got round to making with my bargain buys - or even if I ended up chucking them away (no, I didn't!)
The turkey was roasted and kept us in cold turkey and fry-ups with madeira-spiked gravy (our youngest son's favourite way of eating it, devised by his dad) for days. (I should say our youngest is 25.)
I made a turkey and leek pie filling with the last of the white meat which is sitting in the freezer. I prefer to make it as a filling so we can have it how we choose - with a pastry lid, with rice, with potatoes or even as a pancake filling though that seems like a bit too much hard work right now after Christmas. And there are two big tubs of turkey stock in the fridge for a reviving bowl of noodles or broth.
But the £4.94 leg of lamb was the big triumph. I made a Lebanese recipe called Ouzi from Claudia Roden's Arabesque which involved rubbing the lamb with spices (cinnamon, allspice, cumin and cardamom), roasting it for 20 minutes then adding half a head of garlic, an onion and a litre of water to the pan and cooking it very slowly for 3 hours. Result, amazingly tender, delicately spiced meat with a delicious fall-apart texture.
It was served, as recommended with a dish of mince, rice and nuts using many of the same spices plus some nutmeg. The only downside was that it was all rather brown so I cooked some multi-coloured carrots I'd bought from the local greengrocer with a little ground coriander, folded in some chopped parsley and piled them up on the platter too (as seen in the quickly snatched and rather blurry shot above).
It's one of those dishes that can be cheap or expensive depending on what you have in the storecupboard. I didn't have to buy any extra spices and had the recommended pinenuts so the only extra expense was some pistachios which were ironically about half the price of the lamb.
As I've said before it is easy to feel you must go out and buy the ingredients recommended in a recipe but you have to think about why an ingredient is there - for texture or flavour. Nuts and spices would obviously be fairly cheap in the Lebanon but they're not here. If pinenuts, say, are too pricey you could use cashews. If you can't get whole almonds at a reasonable price you could use flaked ones. And I'm not sure that you really need the mince. But I am a believer in having a wide range of spices you can use to jazz up inexpensive ingredients (best bought from a specialist shop rather than a supermarket).
I reckon you could also make the dish with shoulder of lamb which would normally be cheaper than a leg.
Anyway my new year's resolution - or one of them - is to try and go through some of the food in my freezer and storecupboard this month rather than keep buying new stuff. What's yours?