Sunday, 13 June 2010

A FRIDAY NIGHT SUPPER


I apologise in advance: I forgot to photograph Friday's supper and by the time I remembered I meant to photograph the meal, we had greedily gobbled it all up, wiped our plates clean with homemade foccacia, and glugged several glasses of Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva. All that remained was an empty tagine, the bone from the lamb shoulder joint and some burnt on bits - not exactly photogenic, but certainly evidence of a meal enjoyed by all!

I have mentioned my good friend Nick before on this blog. He comes to supper most Fridays when I rise to the occasion and try to produce an interesting and delicious meal. Sometimes his wife Jacky comes as well, when she's not travelling. In fact, it was Jacky who suggested I start blogging about food.

Last Friday's supper was my take on a dish I had for lunch the previous Sunday at The Bull Inn, Wimborne St Giles (see earlier post In Praise of the Gastropub). I do like butter beans, and I really like slow-cooked lamb. How to combine the two? The recipe below is the result....

I much prefer a shoulder or half-shoulder of lamb for a dish like this. It lends itself to slow-cooking, become ever more succulent the longer it is cooked. It comes with a nice layer of fat which helps to keep it moist - and I love the layer of crisp fat with soft, flaky meat underneath it. As usual, I used my tagine for this dish, but a Le Creuset-type casserole dish would do fine - just remember to check it from time to time to make sure it doesn't dry out.

I served this with Salsa Verde which added a nice piquancy. Gremolata would also work well. It's a big enough dish not to need any accompaniment, apart from the aforementioned focaccia, but some sliced, fried courgettes would go well, or a lively green salad. The white wine in the sauce makes it lighter and more summery.

SLOW-COOKED LAMB WITH BUTTER BEANS

1 half-shoulder of lamb join, weighing about 1 kg or just under
2 x 400g cans of butter beans, drained
1 medium onion, chopped
a generous sprig of fresh rosemary, thyme, marjoram or oregano - or a bouquet garni made from all these herbs!
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
a good lug of olive oil
a good lug of dry white wine
3 tbsps chicken or beef stock - or a Knorr stock sachet

Over 200 C for first half hour, then about 150 for another 2-3 hours.

First make small slits in the lamb with a sharp knife and stuff with garlic slivers. Set aside while you assemble the rest of the dish.

Pour a lug of olive oil in the bottom of the tagine or casserole dish, add the fresh herbs, and then arrange the chopped onion, garlic, and tomato over it. Give everything a good stir and season with salt and pepper. Then add the stock and white wine. Put the lamb on top, skin side up, and season. Place in the oven, uncovered, and cook until the lamb is browned and crisp, then cover, turn the oven down and cook for at least another 2 hours, adding the butter beans about halfway through (they should not go mushy in the cooking). The meat should be falling off the bone and the sauce nicely thickened, the butter beans retaining their shape. Check seasoning. Serve with good bread.

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