I’m ludicrously tardy in posting this recipe … the book from which it comes is due back at the library today (even after an extension) and Spring has landed here in Adelaide. But yesterday’s wild and woolly weather reminded us that we are not quite out of the woods and there might yet be a chance to indulge in a bit of slow cooking.
The recipe comes from Cooking Through the Year. It’s a big book: big in dimensions, a solid cover and hefty. It is densely packed with recipes that are divided by season, with Summer and Winter both being split in two. Each section has a ‘recipe chooser’ covering vegetables, fruit, seafood and meat, as well as an overview of produce at its best at that time of year. It is an English book so not everything listed is going to be readily available (guinea fowl is pretty hard to come by as a rule, and the fish selections are, necessarily, regional) but it will give you an excellent starting point for creating interesting, seasonal dishes.
This is the type of recipe book I love. Lots of recipes: four to six recipes on a double page and light on pictures. This doesn’t mean there are no pictures – it’s just that the beautiful images there are are generally well chosen and add something to the recipe. Where the book is, appropriately, image heavy is in the instructive sections. There are clear shots of different types of lettuce or cherries or squash and step by step photos for butterflying a leg of lamb. The book is published by DK which always seems to have incredibly high production standards, so the paper is smooth and thick and the layout is easy to read.
So I feel I’m doing this book a disservice by having tried only one of its 1000 recipes but a scary back log of blog posts means that we’ll have to make do.
I chose the smoky aubergine and lamb stew because it was simple, one-pot-ish and used Sherry vinegar and we have some left over dry Sherry hiding in a cupboard. The recipe contains lots of our favourite ingredients (cumin, chickpeas, chorizo) and it would be the perfect thing to make early in the week for a complete meal on one of the days I work.
And it did not disappoint. One mistake I did make was that, so keen was I to not overcook the aubergine and turn it to mush, I slightly undercooked it. Andy, who is not a mushy aubergine fan, said he preferred it that way, but had I been serving it to others I definitely would have cooked it a little longer.
I don’t consider this dish ‘one-pot’ as you have brown the lamb and so dirty a plate but it is easy and you don’t need to worry too much about complicated sides. The book suggests couscous but you could easily go with mash, pasta or even a salad. Naturally, left overs were marvellous for both lunch and a small, hungry person’s dinner.
- 500g lamb leg/shoulder, cut into chunks
- 1 large aubergine, chopped into chunks
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 chorizo, chopped
- splash dry sherry (or sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- pinch of cumin
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- sprigs of fresh thyme
- vegetable stock (approx 600 mL, but enough to cover the meat)
- olive oil
- Heat some olive oil in a casserole dish and add the aubergine and paprika. Cook, stirring, until the aubergine begins to colour. You'll probably need to add more olive oil as you go.
- Remove the aubergine from the casserole and set aside.
- Now brown the lamb, in batches if necessary. Set the lamb aside but keep it separate from the aubergine.
- To the casserole add the chorizo, onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. The chorizo will start to release its oil and the garlic and onion will soften. Add the sherry and increase the heat. Cook until the sherry has evaporated, scraping the bottom of the pan all the time.
- Reduce the heat and add the cumin then return the lamb to the pan, followed by the chickpeas and thyme and then cover with the stock.
- Bring to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook, covered, until the lamb is tender. Be careful not to boil. Check on the thickness of the gravy - you may want to cook uncovered towards the end to help thicken the gravy.
- About half an hour before serving, return the aubergine to the pan and cook until tender.
- Serve with your favourite starchy option.