Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lamb and aubergine stew

The latest in Grub Street's hardback reissues of Elizabeth David's works - as long as you don't mind weights in pounds and ounces, they are lovely editions to have - is Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen. The following is based on one of David's recipes. Of course, to insist that cumin isn't English is a bit like claiming that tomatoes aren't Italian.

Serves 4

750g stewing lamb (I used pieces of middle neck)
Sunflower oil
2 medium aubergines, cut into largish cubes
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2tsp cumin, toasted gently in a small saucepan, then crushed in a mortar
2 lemon husks (optional)
1/2 stock cube (optional)
2tbsp olive oil

Coat the lamb in a little sunflower oil, salt it, and brown it quickly on a ridged grill pan over a high heat. Remove to a plate.

Put the aubergines, onions, garlic, cumin, and lemon and stock cube if wanted, in a heavy casserole. (I had used the juice of the lemon to make some hummus at lunchtime; and I think that stock cubes, though often frowned upon, add savouriness to dishes.) Toss everything in the olive oil.

The onions and aubergines will stew, and don't need frying first, unless you think that this dish will benefit from the flavour of browned onions.

Tip in the lamb and any juice it has exuded. If you have used half a stock cube, be careful how much extra salt you add.

Cover, and put in the oven at gas mark 4/180C. If you have a heavy pan, the stew may take a good 45 minutes to get simmering. Once there is activity, you can turn down the heat - perhaps to as low as gas mark S/130C. You may want to give the stew another 90 minutes from that point. Stir it from time to time.


Anonymous said...

Hello -
I did this today (using some diced shoulder of lamb) and it was really good - thanks! Afterwards I wondered whether a little heat would have been good - maybe just half a chilli>?
Thanks for this and your other recipes - I've been inspired by lots of them, respond to too few!

Nicholas Clee said...

Thanks for the nice comment, Alex. I'm always happy to include chilli, though I agree your suggestion that the quantity should be modest. A teaspoon of harissa (the bought stuff in tubes and tins seems to mellow as it cooks) might work too.