Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Lamb Shank and Lentil Stew
Old friends from Zurich were on a flying visit to Sydney last week and we were lucky enough that they had time to pop over for dinner. Aaahh, it was good to reminisce.
Over some lovely wine and soft candle light, we talked about cushy jobs and corporate jollies, drinking Weissbier and getting gas, ski trips and some cranky swish Swiss, dwarves (don't ask!) and weddings. Which are all in the past.
As if on cue, one of the four-year olds in the next room screams which brought all three sets of parents running. Nothing serious, it was just your run-of-the mill pre-schooler fight on whose turn it was with the Hula hoop/Charlie and Lola book/kitchen knife. And just like that, we were jolted back to the present. Beer-brain has been replaced by nappy-brain. Mortgages, jobs, kiddy tantrums, petrol prices....
Yet, everyone is happy and content. Which is what counts.
When I found out that my friends were visiting, I got concious of the fact that I am several kilos heavier than when they saw me last. The vain person in me wanted to make it out as though it was the new look I was going for- you know, the curvy Nigella Lawson-sort of domestic goddess...'Dahhling, let me pop one more of those gorgeous deep-fried chocolate eclairs in my mouth'
Seriously, I just wanted to give my friends a taste of a flavourful, rustic, home-cooked meal that they must be missing while travelling. Nigella's creations, though mostly 'celery-challenged' (as one journalist puts it), are downright comforting and would fit the bill nicely.
One of the things I made for the night was adapted from Nigella Lawson's Aromatic Lamb-Shank Stew recipe.
I thought the use of soy sauce in a (non-Asian) stew was a bit dubious but I loved the resulting flavour. I also had some Chermoula on hand and adding it packed a bit more complex punch.
Lamb Shank and Lentil Stew
6 pcs lamb shanks
1/2 c finely chopped onion
1tsp minced garlic
1tsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp chermoula
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp Marsala wine
1 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp honey
1/2 c lentils (I used split mung bean)
salt and pepper to taste
Heat up some olive oil in a dutch oven/cocotte and brown the lamb shanks. Take the lamb shanks out and drain on absorbent paper.
In the same oil, cook the onion and garlic until soft. Then add the ginger, tumeric, chermoula and cinnamon. Stir around for a minute or so but do not let the spices burn. Add the Marsala and soy sauce and stir until it starts bubbling up. Stir in the honey.
Put the lamb shanks back in the pot and then cover in cold water (around 4 cups).
Let it get to boil and then turn the heat down to low. Simmer covered for approx 1 hour, or until the meat is tender.
Add the lentils and simmer uncovered for a further 20mins. Season with salt and pepper.
*I like to cook this stew in advance and then skim off the fat after it has been sitting in the fridge overnight. The flavours develop better upon re-heating.
** I served this with spinach rice. I sauteed the spinach in butter and cardamom and mixed in some cooked rice then topped with almond slivers. Next time, I will go back to serving this with polenta. I prefer something a bit 'more bland' as a backdrop for the various flavours.