Saturday, 18 February 2012

Lamb, Potato and Spinach Curry

This is a really simple and delicious curry that can either be done in a slow cooker or left in a low oven. Packed with flavour, it's the kind of curry that makes you wonder why you bother with a take away.

Make sure that you buy some decent lamb from your butcher; they will recommend a good cut for slow braising. This uses lamb steaks from the leg but lamb shoulder cut into large chunks will be just as good. You want the lamb to melt in your mouth and these cuts are suited to long, slow cooking.

This one uses two whole dried chillies meaning it is stinging hot. Replace the dried chillies with a teaspoon of chilli powder and adjust the heat towards the end depending on taste.

Lamb, Potato and Spinach Curry
Serves 4

2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
2 onions, peeled
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 thumb size of ginger, peeled
750g lamb shoulder or leg steaks, cut into large chunks
4 whole cloves
4 whole cardamon pods
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp each of chilli powder, ground coriander, cumin and turmeric
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
250ml water
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 large handfuls of spinach
Fresh coriander
Salt and pepper

1 - If making in a slow cooker, switch it on to its low setting. If cooking in an oven, pre-heat to 140C/GM1.
2 - Either finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger or blitz in a food processor. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and cook for 10 minutes until starting to colour. Tip into a casserole dish or slow cooker.
3 - Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and quickly seal the lamb all over. Tip into the casserole dish or slow cooker.
4 - Add the spices to the hot pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute until fragrant. Ensure that they do not burn. Add the tomatoes, puree and water and bring to the boil. Add to the casserole dish or slow cooker.
5 - If using a slow cooker, cook for 6-8 hours on the low setting or according to the manufacturer's instructions. If cooking in an over, place onto the middle shelf and cook for 3 hours. Check each hour to ensure that it has not cooked dry.
6 - With one hour's cooking time left, stir in the cubed potatoes. If using a slow cooker, make it 2 hours before the end of cooking. Or if you prefer, pre-boil the potatoes and simply stir them in at the end.
7 - Stir in the spinach and a handful of roughly chopped fresh coriander. Taste for seasoning and serve with rice, breads, yoghurt and chutney.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Black Pudding and Bacon Risotto

A lovely parcel arrived for me last week; a whole box full of black and white puddings.

It's a delivery I can safely say has never happened to me before but after sampling some of Clonakilty's black pudding in a risotto today, it is one of the finest. It is simply the best black pudding I have ever tasted, and I've tasted a lot.

Clonakilty have been famous in Ireland for over 100 years. Based in West Cork, they have been producing top quality bacon and sausages to the good people of Ireland for long enough to know what top quality is. They are Ireland's leading black pudding manufacturers and take my word for it, you can tell why.

Rather than serve it with a traditional breakfast, I thought a good use would be to crumble some into a good risotto. I can remember some years back eating a paella in Valencia which used their version of the black pudding, morcilla, and it was amazing. So that's where the idea came from.

The resulting risotto is rich and fulfilling and although the Irish will probably question my use of their fine product in an Italian staple, all I can say is, try it and see! Thanks Clonakilty.

Black Pudding and Bacon Risotto

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
4 rashers of smoked bacon, roughly chopped
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, sliced
400g Arbario rice
1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
6 thick slices black pudding
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper

1 - Heat the olive oil in a large deep-sided non-stick pan. Add the bacon and fry until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside on kitchen towel.
2 - Add the onion and garlic to the oil and cook until softened. Stir in the rice then add a couple of ladles of the stock. Bring to the simmer and cook, stirring regularly. Once the stock has almost cooked out, add another couple of ladles of stock.
3 - Continue in this fashion until the rice is cooked through with a slight bite to it. Stir in the cooked bacon and half of the Parmesan cheese and taste for seasoning. Keep warm with a lid on.
4 - Add a little oil to a frying pan and fry the slices of black pudding for 2-3 minutes each side. Crumble some of it into the risotto.
5 - Serve the risotto with more black pudding and Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Sticky Sweet and Sour Aubergines

This is a recipe I've slightly tweaked a few times from Sabrina Ghayour's fantastic cookbook Bazaar, a wonderful book with a huge se...