Last weekend I was casting around for what to do with some lamb breast and neck I had defrosted and the weather seemed to good for hearty stews. I asked the hive mind that is twitter and carried on flipping though cook books for inspiration. At roughly the same time as I was eyeing up a porchetta recipes Chris from La Hogue Farm shop suggested a herby stuffing and wrapping the breast round the neck.
And so I set out to make lamb-chetta.
I didn’t want too dense a stuffing so I decided to simply use lots of fresh herbs.
I laid out the meat and added some ground black pepper and the herbs
I rolled it up and tied with string
I’m not expecting any awards for my butchers joint tie-ing skills…
It went into the oven for 4 hours on gas mark 3 (150-160C). I’d loosely covered the tray with foil and part way through cooking I added a few splashes of white wine as well.
We carved it into quite thick slices and I’d say there was enough for four people
We had it simply with some potatoes and cauliflower
It was totally delicious soft super sweet meat from the slow cooking and layers of fat the two cuts contain, the herbs gave is a fresh edge.
We had some left which last night we used in a barley and lamb risotto, again delicious. i also tried a few bits cold and think it would make a great sandwich or simple salad with a slice on top of some lentils.
And as these two cuts are very cheap it was nice and frugal too.
Ahhhhhh its barbecue time of year and barbecue kind of weather: smell the grilling food, hear the chink of glasses, the laughter, the fun, the delicate aroma of firelighters, the burnt food, the lobster tinged neighbours. England, the summer.
But it’s be a shame not to join in with at least some of this, right? Correct.
Here’s the easy chicken (well poussin actually) we did last night:
2 poussin butterflied (dead simple this, lie it breast bone down, hold the parsons nose, cut along either side of the backbone and remove, flip it over, press down firmly on the breast to flatten, et voila. If stuck try YouTube for clips).
Marinade in lemon juice, zest, oil, garlic and rosemary for a couple of hours (use 50:50 juice to oil).
Light barbecue (using your preferred method: paper, firelighters, gas ignition) and wait for coals to be that delightful glowing cooking temperature.
Pop the poussin over the heat and cook for about 30 minutes turning regularly (cook it with skin side up more often than down, this way it cooks the meat from the inside without over cooking/burning the skin).
Meantime heat the remaining marinade in a saucepan and simmer hard to reduce to a nice glossy sauce.
Cut each poussin in half to make 4 portions. Eat with veg and carbs of your choice.
We had homemade sourdough bread to mop up the sauce/juices and broad beans tossed in minty yoghurt.
It’s a vegetarian challenge, I’m no vegetarian but I do like a bit of a challenge.
One of the things I’m finding so great about food blogging is checking out the other food blogs and from that getting the grey cells moving to come up with new ideas or remember forgotten favourites. Suddenly lots of ideas come together and you want to try something different.
This months ‘No croutons required’ has an extra twist – its been Holler’s birthday and so along with the soup or salad (based on tomatoes this month) we also have to come up with a birthday dinner menu for Holler – fortunately we don’t have to cook and test the whole lot together – though I’m thinking it might be wise to at least have tried the rest of the menu before?
This is (very) loosely based on the Tuscan soup Pappa al Pomodoro.
First some tips and WARNINGS!
We are actually going to be smoking the tomatoes with a smoking mix of rice/tea/sugar so if you don’t like smokey foods forget it now. If you’d like to go an adventure with me hop on and keep reading.
Once the smoking thing gets going it really does make the house smell, well pretty smokey, so ideally do this in the garden, on a camping stove, on the gas ring of your fancy barbeque any heat source you can find. If not open all the windows, shut internal doors, put the extractor on max and hope for the best.
The smoke, as well as creating tasty smoked tomatoes, will get all over the pan/steamer you use so don’t use your best/favourite pan as its takes a lot of effort to clean up. Use a non-stick wok if you can and one of those cheap(ish) bamboo steamers. If you have a smoker use it (not them).
If you don’t like smokey or chargrilled foods you won’t like this – stop now make something else.
Be careful where you put the steamer down post smoking; don’t make an impossible to remove mark on your new work surface like I once did ?
Ingredients (for the smoking bit):
½ cup rice – don’t worry what type – I used basmati
¼ cup tea – whatever you fancy, the stronger the tea the stronger the flavour – I used Darjeeling
2 tbsp soft brown sugar (I think its this that makes a lot of the mess)
6-8 ripe tomatoes – medium size
Mix the first three ingredients together – makes about 1 cup of smoking mix.
Get a piece of foil about 3cm bigger all round than the base of the pan you are going to use. Fold the edges up, tip in the smoking mix, pop it in the bottom of the pan.
If you want to skin the tomatoes then nick the skin in a cross on the bottom, plunge in just boiled water for about a minute, remove and peel off skins. I can never be bothered to do this but it’s your call.
Put the pan with the smoking mix on the heat, cover the pan and let is start to generate smoke – about 5-10 mins to get a good flow.
Put the tomatoes on a piece of foil bigger than the steamer and fold up the edges but don’t cover the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in the steamer.
When you’ve got a good amount of smoke then pop the steamer on top of the pan containing the smoke mix and smoke for up to 15 minutes depending on the intensity of smokiness you fancy – we did about 10 mins.
The tomatoes will have cooked and let out juices don’t loose these they go in the soup.
For the soup (2 as a hearty lunch, 4 as a starter):
the smoked tomatoes (as above) – use as few as or as many as you like to adjust the smokiness of the soup
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pint vegetable stock (made with bouillon powder is fine)
4oz dried pasta, either small soup pasta, or whatever you have broken into smaller bits (I used linguine snapped into smaller lengths)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Gently sauté the garlic in about 1tbsp olive oil for a couple of minutes but don’t let it go brown and bitter
Add the smoked and tinned tomatoes and squish them around to make sure they are in smallish pieces
Add the stock
Add 1 sprig of rosemary stripped from the stalk and roughly chopped
Bring it all to simmering point then add the pasta
Simmer for 10-15 minutes so its all warmed through and the pasta is cooked
Serve garnished with a small sprig of rosemary
And the taste – well it was pretty smokey. I liked it but Ian wasn’t convinced (which is odd because he’s usually a fan of smoked foods). I think if I did it again I’d smoke the tomatoes for less time, maybe use a very subtle tea – although Darjeeling isn’t usually though of as a strong tea the flavour after 10 minutes of smoking its pretty intense, and perhaps use fewer of the smoked tomatoes saving the others to make a bruschetta or toss in a salad.
As for the rest of the menu….
Chick pea pancakes with wilted greens and fresh soft cheese: I’d use the recipe in my Spicy chickpea pancakes post but omit the chilli, ginger and cumin seeds and add lots of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley instead. I’d wilt a mix of the nicest looking greens I could find probably spinach, kale and wild garlic for preference, pile these on the pancakes and add some lovely fresh soft cheese cut into slices (ideally I’d get some Stichill or Crowdie but any nice goats cheese would also work well) and then fold the pancakes in half and serve with some steamed leaks and purple sprouting broccoli.
For desert there’d be my Rhubarb and pink ginger ice cream, with a dash of stewed rhubarb and a little cream poured over so it freezes on the ice cream in the way I loved so much as a kid.
I’m thrilled to say that I WON April’s ‘No Croutons Required’. I don’t usually win stuff so I’m quite excited and am going to be proudly displaying the winners badge in my sidebar
Thanks to all who voted, and for all the comments.