Tag Archives: cooking with lamb

Lamb & tomato ragu with gnocchi

5 Apr

Lamb & tomato ragu with gnocchi, basil and parmesan (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

 

This is hands-down one of the most comforting dishes I’ve ever eaten. It is made with boneless lamb that’s been cubed into 1 x 1 cm blocks – don’t stress about the labour, it goes quickly and it’s actually quite therapeutic (read: pour yourself a glass of wine while you do it). You can use chops, leg or even stewing meat, just remove the bones and chop-chop-chop. The result is a chunkier ragu than those made with ground meat, very tender with an incredible mouth-feel and packed with simple, robust flavours. Just the way the Italians intended.

I love serving this ragu with gnocchi, but it also works well with pasta – homemade is best. Fresh basil and grated parmigiano is compulsory. Bellissima!

Ingredients: (serves 6)

45 ml olive oil
1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
1-2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled & finely chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, woody stems removed & finely chopped
1 kg boneless lamb/mutton, cubed into 1 x 1 cm pieces
1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
2 cans whole Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped, with juice
salt & pepper
5 ml sugar
about 750g-1 kg fresh gnocchi, cooked, to serve (or 500 g dried pasta, cooked)
a handful fresh basil leaves, to serve
grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Method:

  1. In a heavy based large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and fry the onion, celery, carrot and rosemary until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the cubed meat and turn up the heat. Fry until it starts to catch (get brown and sticky) on the bottom stirring often – this is important, so be patient. It takes about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and stir to deglaze. Add the chopped tomatoes with juice, season with salt & pepper, add the sugar and stir. Bring so a simmer, then turn the heat down low, cover and cook for 2-3 hours until very soft. Stir every now and then.
  4. Serve with cooked gnocchi or pasta, with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.

Note: Store-bought gnocchi don’t pan-fry well and should rather be boiled briefly in salted water until they pop to the surface. Freshly made gnocchi can be directly pan-fried in butter until golden, it only take a few minutes over medium heat and it is most definitely my preference.

This is the second recipe in a series of four Mediterranean-inspired Autumn/Winter dishes for Lamb & Mutton SA. Also check out my recipe for Greek-style 8-hour leg of lamb with origanum & preserved lemon.

Share this:

Greek-style 8 hour leg of lamb with lemon & origanum

29 Mar

The most lemony leg of lamb, slow braised for 8 hours, Greek-style. (Photography & co-styling by Tasha Seccombe. Food preparation and co-styling by Ilse van der Merwe.)

 

Easter weekend is here and many of us are getting ready to feast generously with friends and family. To me, entertaining a crowd is all about fuss-free choices so that you can cut back on the stress of catering and actually enjoy the feast as much as everyone else.

One of my choices for a low effort / big result showstopping roast is this Greek-style lemony leg of lamb. In Greek cooking, simplicity reigns supreme. There are very few ingredients in this recipe, making sure the flavour of the meat remains the most important: only lemon, dried origanum, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a touch of water. The meat releases so much of its own juices, so you actually braise the meat and potatoes slowly in a lemony lamb broth. The result is just magnificent, because although the meat falls apart completely, it is still pink in colour and super juicy.

Use leftovers to make the most incredible lemony lamb sandwiches the next day. A generous dollop of tzatziki won’t hurt either.

Happy Easter everybody!

Note: Remember to start this dish very early in the morning if you’re having it for lunch, or late morning if you’re having it for dinner. You can even cook it overnight (without the potatoes) and reheat before serving.

Ingredients: (serves 6-8)

  • 2-2,5 kg leg of lamb (ask your butcher to hack the shank bone so it will be able to bend and fit in your tray)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 4-6 lemons)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 15 ml dried origanum
  • 10 ml salt
  • 5 ml ground black pepper
  • about 1,5 kg small-medium potatoes, peeled (and halved, if big)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 120 C.
  2. Place the leg of lamb in a large non-corrosive (stainless steel or ceramic) deep roasting tray, fat side up. Pour over the lemon juice, water and olive oil, then sprinkle all over with origanum. Season generously with salt & pepper. (I like to also add some of the juiced lemon halves to the tray, but it is optional.)
  3. Cover with a layer of non-stick baking paper, tucking the sides in around the leg. Cover tightly with 2 layers of foil. Place in the oven and roast for 4 hours at 120 C, then add the potatoes and return to the oven for 4 more hours.
  4. Remove the foil and baking paper. Crank the heat up to 220 C, then roast uncovered for 15 minutes.
  5. To serve, press the meat here and there to gently fall apart and suck up more of the lemony broth. Serve with the potatoes, a Greek salad, perhaps some tzatziki and optionally some toasted pita bread to soak up the runny juices.

This recipe is part of a Mediterranean-inspired series for Lamb & Mutton South Africa. To learn more about South African lamb and mutton and to find more recipes, go to www.cookingwithlamb.co.za.

Share this:

Review: Merino lamb terroir tasting with Bertus Basson

3 Mar

Yesterday I attended the first merino tasting session hosted by well known Stellenbosch Chef Bertus Basson and Cape wine master Bennie Howard of Veritas, in collaboration with Agri-Expo and Lamb & Mutton SA as part of the Woordfees 2018 in Stellenbosch.

Four legs of lamb, taken from animals of the same age, farmed in different areas (Hamtam, Kamdeboo, Overberg and Boland) were cooked at 68 °C sous vide for 12 hours, with no salt/herbs/spices and served at room temperature. This way the unique terroir of each of the meats can be identified, tasted and appreciated. In case you didn’t know, most of the mutton that we find in SA is free range. Along with the four meats, a tasting of four Veritas awarded wines were presented by Bennie Howard: Holden Manz Big G 2013, Ridgeback Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Diemersdal Pinotage 2016 and Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Shiraz 2013. All four incredible wines could be paired with your choice of meat, and the differences in tastes in the audience were interesting to see.

Some notes on the terroir of each of the meats:

1. Hantam (Calvinia, Great Karoo): hard, sun scorched, dry, biodiverse hotspot, winter rainfall, animals mainly eat karoo bossies.

2. Kamdeboo (Graaf Reinet, Eastern Cape): succulent Karoo, grass lands, cold winters, summer rainfall.

3. Overberg (Swellendam): fynbos territory, the heart of merino territory, winter rainfall, cold winters.

4. Boland: animals feed on “stoppellande” after harvest season, receive additional feed because of current drought, very hot summers.

When you taste lamb or mutton meat, you’re looking for the following qualities: herbaciousness, minerality, fat content and grain. It was eye opening to taste and experience the unique differences in each of the meats and to see the differences in grain (like they say in Afrikaans: “Daar’s ‘n skaap vir elke smaak”). According to Bertus, his personal favourite mutton cuts are neck, rib and shoulders. He also said that mutton chops should be braaied crispy and seasoned only with salt. This way you can really appreciate the taste of the meat and enjoy the unique fatty edges. No fancy-shmancy pink chops for him! I like that.

Get your tickets for the upcoming exclusive merino tasting sessions with Bertus & Bennie from Computicket – next sessions on Thursday 8 March 12h00 and Sunday 11 March 12h00, R160 pre-bought or R180 at the door. #CookingWithLamb #Lambassador #WeLoveLamb #TheWayNatureIntended

Here is my taste experience in pictures:

The tables at Die Khaya, Woordfees 2018, almost ready for a merino tasting session.

Tasting notes and more information about the Veritas wines.

Our four Veritas wines as part of the tasting experience, to be paired with four different marino lamb meats.

Paper plates with four different lamb meats for the tasting session, served at room temperature with no flavourings or seasonings.

My tasting station at the merino tasting session.

Bennie Howard of Veritas tells us more about the four red wines that he has selected for the tasting.

Chef Bertus Basson tells us more about his love of South African mutton and lamb.

Bertus listens to Bennie’s expert wine tasting notes.

Marina Bester of Lamb & Mutton SA takes a picture of Bertus for social media. It’s always great to see a few behind-the-scene shots! What a great afternoon in the company of experts!

 

Share this:
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram
YouTube