Posts Tagged ‘rosemary’

My blog is probably still a little young for me to be refreshing things but I’ve just been updating my ‘about me’ page because I was reading it the other day and realised that my reasons for writing have changed so much even the short time I have been publishing these posts. As you’ll see from what I’ve written, its much more about the people who read my posts than it was when I started and it was more of a personal experiment.

Rather than being purely a public diary of my food related thoughts (which I should point out is still a perfectly good reason to write), I find I spend more time thinking about what would be evocative and interesting to the people who are reading it and hoping that someone is finding it even half as inspiring as I find the blogs that I read. This realisation means that I suddenly find more pressure to write something about important or original and to write well.

So in the spirit of doing something useful as well as pleasurable I thought I would give you this lamb recipe which actually turned into 3 separate recipes, 2 of which are written below and 1 is still to be created but can be easily created using your own ideas in the meantime. I called it recession lamb because its an excellent way to eek out one joint into several meals, especially if you are cooking for two and always land up with left overs and this is how I approach all my weekly shopping to save money and avoid wasting things. The title is in no way related to the taste of the end result though!

This all started with a craving for a lamb Sunday lunch. However, after making my shopping list and wandering up and down the meat aisles I realised they didn’t have any de-boned roasting joints which I had my heart set on. In the end I bought the lamb leg anyway with the intention of de-boning it myself. Bearing in mind I have never done this before and I don’t own a boning knife I was setting myself a fair challenge for what was supposed to be a lazy Sunday morning. Professional chefs everywhere would probably be recoiling in horror or sniggering into the sleeve of their whites if they were watching however I did manage to get the bones out without losing half the meat and although Im fairly sure I didnt do it properly as I didnt have one continuous slab of meat to roll up (in fact it was quite full of holes), I still managed to get from this…

To this…

More evidence that cooking is often more about perseverance than talent. And that you can fix anything with string.

So having wrestled my lamb into submission, I set about my original plan to make a herb crusted lamb with rosemary roasted veg which turned out to be just as delicious as I was hoping and therefore worth sharing. Pink slices of aromatic juicy lamb with salty and sweet new potatoes, carrots and shallots. We ate half the lamb on Sunday and the other half became the basis for recipe number two – lamb and white bean stew. As it turned out I undercooked the lamb slightly which turned out to be perfect as we ate either end and I used the under cooked middle for the stew which cooked just perfectly as it heated through. I also had a few off cuts of lamb and all the bones and bits of muscle from de-boning which I froze and will form the basis of my third recipe which I’ll get around to making this week – another lamb stew or a lamb soup, depending on what lands up on this week’s shopping list and what takes my fancy (details to follow as soon as I have worked out what they are).

Apart from the couple of before and after photos, I’m not going to try and write a tutorial on de-boning a leg joint as there are already a ton of perfectly good articles and videos available on the web but hopefully the fact that I managed to do it without proper tools or any expertise will give you more confidence to attempt it yourself and otherwise you can get your butcher to do the hard work and still use the recipes to make some good grub that wont break the bank.

Herb Crusted Lamb  with Rosemary Roasted Veg

Serves 2 with enough over to make lamb and white bean stew. If you are making for 4 then just add more vegetables.

  • 1.2kg lamb leg or 900g rolled lamb joint
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 4 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
  • larch bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 6 sprigs rosemary, 4 sprigs finely chopped and 2 halved
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • olive oil
  • 400ml lamb or chicken stock
  • 8-10 new potatoes
  • 2 carrots, quartered lengthways
  • 4 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 4 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled

If you are using a whole leg of lamb, de-bone it by cutting the meat away from the bone as close to the bone as possible and lifting out the bone away from the meat. Trim the tendons and any fat off the meat and make a cut into the thickest parts of the meat to flatten out and get an even thickness. Now roll the lamb up and tie with string to make a parcel. Place any off cuts of meat and all the bones in the freezer and use to make a lamb stock for another stew or soup. You could use them to make the stock for the stew below but I didn’t have time so I froze them to use for a third meal.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place a good glug of olive oil in a roasting dish for the veg in the oven. Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan and sear the lamb on each side. Combine the herbs (keep 2 rosemary sprigs for the veg) on a plate. Brush the lamb with the mustard and roll in the herbs to coat.

Take the veg dish out of the oven and add the left over rosemary sprigs, anchovy fillets and garlic cloves. I know anchovies sound like an odd addition but you wont taste them and they give the veg a heavenly sweet/salty flavour. Stir to help the anchovies melt and then add the potatoes, shallots and carrots and return to the oven. Put the lamb in the oven and roast everything for 30-40 minutes. As I said before, I found that the lamb was still too pink in the middle after 30 minutes but we took slices off each end which were perfect. When the lamb is done, take it out and wrap in tin foil to rest while you make the gravy. Add the flour to the lamb juices in the pan and stir over a low heat for 2 minutes. Add the stock and stir to de-glaze the pan (get all the caramelised bits to dissolve into the gravy). Cook for another few minutes until thickened. Remove the veg from the oven, carve the lamb and serve with the gravy.

Lamb and White Bean stew

Serves 2-4 depending on your portion size.

  • About 230g left over roast lamb, cubed (preferably just undercooked or rare)
  • 400ml veg stock
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tins white beans (I used one cannellini and one butter bean)
  • 150g spinach (or a few big handfuls)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • few sprigs thyme
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pan and gently fry the celery, carrots, leek and garlic until softened. Add the wine and cook until reduced by two thirds. Add the veg stock and bring to the boil. Add the beans and herbs and simmer for 20 min. If you want to make the sauce more creamy, spoon some of the beans into a bowl, mash with a fork and return to the stew. Add the lamb, red wine vinegar and spinach and cook for a final 5 min until the lamb is just warmed through. Serve on its own or with crusty bread for mopping up the sauce. I should point out the photo below doesnt really do it justice as the lighting was shocking but it is delicious I promise!

    Now, what to make for my third lamb dish…

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    …bribe them with baked goods. As I’ve mentioned before I was lucky enough not to be the one doing the cooking on New Year’s eve and I knew our friends would be more than prepared with enough food to feed a small army but I didnt want to turn up completely empty handed so besides the artillery of cocktail making ingredients I packed my bag with, I decided to make these Grissini (bread sticks to you and me) as a pre-dinner offering to our hosts. I think they went down well although I made short work of quite a few myself. I wrapped them up as a little brown paper parcel, which not only makes them into a proper present but also saves you trying to remember which houses you have left all your tupperwares at.

    I had piles of rosemary left over from Christmas so I made a batch rolled in rosemary and sea salt as well as a plain parmesan batch for the breadstick purists but I had seen a basic recipe whilst paging through my Italian cookery book (The Italian Cookery Course by Katie Caldesi) which suggested wrapping the baked sticks in strips of parma ham to serve and I wondered what they would be like if I used pancetta instead and twisted it round the dough before baking. Addictive is the answer. Careful rationing and threats of grievous bodily harm were the only way to make sure there were enough left to make a worthy gift by the time they made it to the safety of a sealed parcel.

    You might think why bother going to all this hassle when you can buy perfectly good bread sticks in the shops. Well that’s true but making these is the adult version of being let loose with a glue stick and some glitter when you were little. I might be alone in this but I could quite happily spend hours in my kitchen with the radio on in the background – cutting long strips of dough and rolling, twisting and sprinkling them with different toppings then repeating over and over again. And as long as you prepare your chosen flavourings and have them ready on plates so that you can dunk, place straight onto a baking sheet and repeat, then this doesn’t take nearly that long. Sadly. I ran out of dough long before I got bored and I was left contemplating whether to make another batch and keep going until I ran out of parmesan or kitchen surfaces.

    I always think if something looks delicious before its been cooked then you’re probably on to a winner and I think these look so pretty laid out ready to be put into the oven. Which is a good thing really as you may have noticed that besides the wrapped parcel, there are pictures of the finished article. By the time I wrapped them up I realised I had forgotten to take any post-oven snaps and although I contemplated unwrapping them, the sun had set by that point so there was no decent light left to take a picture I would dare to post. Besides if I had risked opening up the parcel then they really wouldn’t have made it as far as the party.


    Parmesan, Rosemary and Pancetta Grissini

    Adapted from a recipe from The Italian Cookery Course by Katie Caldesi.


    • 325g strong white bread flour plus extra for dusting
    • 7g dried yeast
    • 200ml tepid milk
    • 50g grated parmesan (if you are making plain grissini with no toppings then use 100g)
    • 100g soft butter
    • 1tsp fine salt


    You can adjust quantities or add other ingredients depending on how many you want to make of each.

    • 50g grated parmesan
    • handful fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
    • 2 tsp maldon sea salt
    • 1 pack of thin pancetta slices (or other thinly sliced ham)

    Preheat the oven to 150°C.  Prepare your toppings by combining the rosemary and sea salt on one plate, parmesan on another and cutting the pancetta in half length ways to make thinner strips.

    Mix the yeast with the tepid milk. Blend the flour, salt and parmesan in another bowl and then add the butter and blend, followed by the yeasted milk. Bring the dough together using your hands to ensure everything is evenly incorporated. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to about 5mm thick. The width should be just less than the width of your baking sheet as they stretch a bit as you pick them and transfer them. Cut into thin strips about 1cm wide.

    If you are making plain grissini then put them straight onto a greased baking sheet. Otherwise roll the dough in the rosemary or parmesan mix and then place carefully on to the baking sheet. For the parmesan ones you may need to sprinkle a bit extra after they are on the sheet as it doesn’t stick as well. For the pancetta ones, lay a strip along the length of the dough and then twist the ends in opposite directions. You can also roll these ones in the parmesan if you like.

    When you have two trays ready, place them in the oven and bake for 25-30minutes until golden and crispy. Leave to cool on a wire rack while you bake the other batches and then store in an air tight container.

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