Marinated Lamb Cutlets, Lentil and Rice Pilaff and Ginger Tomato Sauce

I adore lamb cutlets and believe they are one of the best kid foods around – all except for one small but important point. Cost. Those little buggers are expensive and when you have hordes of children to feed it all just gets ridiculous. But the other day I went fuck it and bought some delightful french trimmed lamb cutlets. And thanks to a Bill Granger recipe they were a taste sensation.

Marinated Lamb Cutlets
From bills, Bill Granger

  • 1tsp crushed coriander seeds
  • 1tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes (I used the weeniest bit due to young tastebuds)
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil (I used only 1)
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 French-trimmed lamb cutlets
  1. Place everything in a bowl and marinate for two hours, bringing to room temperature for the last 30 minutes
  2. Heat a frying pan over high heat and cook cutlets fo r 1-2 minutes on each side.

Warm lentil and rice pilaff

  • 1 cup Lentils du Puy
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the lentils, cooking for 10 minutes
  2. Add the rice and lemon and cook for another 12-15 minutes until the rice and lentils are tender
  3. Drain, discard the lemon and place in a serving bowl
  4. Meanwhile, heat oil ina frypan and cook the onion for 10-12 minutes or until the onion is a rich golden brown, stirring frequently.
  5. Sprinkle the pilaff with salt, pepper, parsley and half the onion, toss to combine. Top with remaining onion (I just tossed the lot through)

Ginger tomato sauce

  • Fry a little chilli, ginger and garlic in some olive oil until fragrant.
  • Add 600g (4lb5oz) chopped tomatoes and cook gently for 25 minutes.

I loved this little vignette to the recipe – and it really made the dish. I used one biggish garlic clove, about a teaspoon of finely chopped ginger and crumbled in a small dried chilli. It just gently bubbled away while I made the rest of it. Yum.

Old Fashioned Lamb Chop Casserole

So my mum used to cook. Then she got divorced, had to go back to work and basically raise two kids on her own so she stopped. It all happened around the time I discovered that I liked to cook, which was fortuitous. Even so, my mum doesn’t eat much – like pasta, tomatoes, chilli, anything with spices and so on and so forth.

That said, she makes a vegetable barley soup and a chop casserole I can never match.

But with a recent pocket of cooler weather I desperately needed a casserole, so attempt it I did. And lo, it came to pass that it was delicious.

Now the amounts below are, I confess, a bit of a guess. Casseroles are a moveable feast as far as I’m concerned, sometimes featuring a tin of tomatoes, sometimes some beer of some sort, sometimes mushrooms, you get the picture. So use the following as a lose guide rather than some ‘to be followed to the letter’. I’m just saying is all.

Lamb chop casserole

  • 6 – 8 lamb loin chops
  • a piled heap of plain flour
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 heaped tblsp tomato paste
  • glass of red (or white) wine
  • 1.5 litres of water or stock
  • 4 potatoes (depending on size) halved or quartered depending on size
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks or thick fingers
  • handful or two of fresh herbs of choice, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Season the plain flour with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  3. Heat the oil in a large frypan
  4. Dust the chops in the flour and sear in the frypan until you get good colour on them. Do this is batches and place the browned chops in a deep casserole dish as you go, throwing in some of the potatoes and carrots as you go
  5. Once all the chops are done, add a splash more oil and brown off the onion and garlic
  6. Pour the wine into the frypan and let it come to a rapid boil as you scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan into the winey oniony garlicky juices
  7. Scatter over a good heaped tablespoon or two of the flour that you were using to coat the chops and cook off for a minute or two
  8. Then add the stock in batches, stirring madly as you do so it doesn’t go lumpy. Never fear if it does, I’ve been known to take the whole lumpy mess and dump it into a jug and then blitz with the stick blender, then pour back into the pan as if nothing ever happened.
  9. Somewhere in here add the tomato paste – sometimes I add it to the onions to cook it off a bit, sometimes I forget completely and just stir it in once I’ve got the gravy well underway
  10. Add the herbs and cook for a little while – the trick here is that you don’t want it too thick nor too runny. But you know what? So long as it tastes good, it doesn’t really matter.
  11. So, put the lid on, bang the whole thing in the oven and leave it there for at least two hours. The other day the one pictured above had almost four and the meat was just dissolving, which I find absolutely divine. In this instance I’d made a cartouche (sp?) of a piece of baking paper I had wet and scrunched up and then placed over the top of the casserole before putting the lid on. No idea if it made a difference but I felt fancy pants doing so.
  12. Serve with peas.
  13. This makes enough to feed an army.

Seven Hour Lamb Roganjosh

My seven hour lamb recipe probably gets the most search hits of anything I’ve ever posted in my entire blogging career. I am hoping this surpasses it as it.is.so.worthy.

I have based this on Ajoy Joshi’s recipe in his book Indian home cooking but it detours in terms of cooking time and the lamb cut I used. (I can’t say it enough – if you’re in Sydney and if you love Indian, get thee to Ajoy’s restaurant Nilgiri’s.)

The pic below doesn’t really truly reflect the depth of the colour of the dish – washed out by my appalling photography skills I suspect.

Seven hour lamb roganjosh
Adapted from Ajoy Joshi, Indian Home Cooking

  • 6 lamb shanks
  • 2 cups whole milk plain yoghurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup of vegetable oil and butter melted together
  • cinnamon stick
  • 20 green cardamom pods
  • 5 brown or black cardamom pods
  • 1tsp whole cloves
  • 1kg brown onions, chopped
  • 2tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 2tbsp crushed garlic
  • 4tsp chilli powder, or to taste
  • 2tsp ground tumeric
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam marsala
  1. Preheat oven to 120-150C (just depends on your own oven – I did it at 120 in a fan forced crappy oven, if you have a decent oven that maintains its temperature adjust accordingly)
  2. In a large bowl combine the lamb with the yoghurt and 1/2 tsp of salt
  3. In a large casserole dish that can go from stovetop to oven* heat the oil and butter mixture over medium heat and add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds
  4. Add onions and 1/2 tsp salt and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until the onion is deeply golden but not burnt
  5. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds or so
  6. Drain away any excess oil and butter, leaving the spices and onions in the pan (I don’t know if I did something wrong but I didn’t get any excess)
  7. Add the lamb and yoghurt mixture, chilli powder and tumeric to the pan and mix well.
  8. Cover tightly and transfer to the oven and cook for seven hours
  9. Remove from the oven and shred the meat off the bones into the accumulated sauce**
  10. Just before serving stir through the coriander and garam masala and check its seasoning.

* I still don’t own one of these so did it all in a large heavy based saucepan and then transferred it to a baking dish, which I covered tightly with foil
** In hindsight I think this would make a fabulous dinner whereby each person is served a shank, some of the sauce and basmati rice – you could easily add another two shanks to this recipe for the amount of sauce it generates.

Ode to Nigella 25 – Lamb with Garlicky Tahini

I figure after all that chocolate and for some, all that thanksgiving feasting, lets have something a little less cloying. I have a deep and abiding love of whole foods – that is lots of vegetables and fruit and whole grains and low-GI leanings. Tahini sits well and truly in that camp and I adore it. This garlicky dip-type paste is divine in its palate thwacking capacity.

Lamb with Garlicky Tahini

  • 1 oion
  • 1 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon and juice of 2
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin, plus more, for garnishing
  • 10 lamb of noisettes, about 1 1/4 inches thick
  • 8tbsp tahini
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt
  1. Put the onion into one large shallow dish in which the noisettes will fit in one layer – or into a freezer bag
  2. Add the oil, lemon zest and cumin
  3. Give a good stir and add the lamb then cover or seal and marinade for as long as you’ve got
  4. Preheat the oven to 210C and put a nonstick or cast-iron pan on the stove
  5. Remove the noisettes from the marinade, brushing off any bits of onion
  6. Sear each side for a minute or two, then transfer to a baking pan and then to the preheated oven
  7. 10 minutes should be right for pink (but not bloody) lamb – you may need a bit longer if the meat started off very cold. You will need to check for yourself, obviously, and when cooked as you want, remove to a warmed plate
  8. For the sauce, put the tahini in a bowl and add the garlic and salt
  9. Stir with a wooden spoon, adding the lemon juice as you do – it will seize up here, but don’t worry, because it will loosen
  10. Slowly add some water (I find I can use about 1/2 cup), pouring from a measuring cup, so only a little goes in at a time and keep stirring.
  11. When you have a smooth mixture–the consistency of heavy cream–stop adding water
  12. Put into a bowl with a spoon and sprinkle with the additional ground cumin.

The tahini is spectacular with diced tomato and parsley and some warmed pita chips as a light and nutritious lunch.

Ode to Nigella 8 – Sake Steak and Rice

OK, so I used lamb backstrap and couldn’t find sake anywhere so followed Nigella’s suggestion to use sherry instead. In her intro to this she says it’s one of those dinners she has on high rotation, next to roast chicken. The recipe is one of those you’d probably skim over when drooling over one of Nigella’s cookbooks, but I’m trying really hard to not make this ode a lardfest. On making it, it’s going to be on high rotation in this house too. With lamb, with chicken or if I’m brave enough even with duck as she suggests. It is very very easy and very very tasty and that, my friends, is what it’s all about.

Sake Steak and rice
The rice

  • 200g basmati rice
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1-2 tblsp chopped fresh coriander

The steaks

  • 2 x 150g fillet steaks (or lamb backstraps)
  • 1tsp English mustard
  • 2tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tbsp garlic or chilli oil (I used only 2tsp, what with Project Boombalardy and all)

The sauce

  • 60ml sake
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2tsp fish sauce
  • 1tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tsp English mustard
  1. In a freezer bag combine the mustard, Worcestershire, soy and oil with the steaks
  2. Marinate for a few hours or in the fridge for up to two days
  3. Heat a ridged griddle pan and then cook the meat for two minutes only on each side
  4. Remove the steaks and cover tightly, let rest for 10 minutes
  5. For the rice, bruise the cardamom pods and add to the rice then cook according to instructions on packet
  6. For the sauce put the sake in a little saucepan, bring to the boil and cook out the alcohol
  7. Take the pan off the heat and add the remaining ingredients
  8. Add any juices that have come out of the meat to the saucepan
  9. Place the rice on a serving dish
  10. Slice the rested meat and arrange over the rice
  11. Pour over the sauce and sprinkle over the coriander

The meat was meltingly tender (I used the Saltbush lamb I bought at the Grower’s Markets on Saturday) and gloriously pink. Not too rare. The sauce had a wonderful complexity that was all Japanese even though it is essentially very British-centric. Everyone snaffled it. Which was when I realised I’d forgotten to take a photo. Felix offered up the final mouthfuls of his dinner.