Saturday, 13 October 2012
Coffee Table Cookbooks and Lamb, Fig and Onion Yahni
Phill bought me the book 'Turkey' by Leanne Kitchen for Christmas and I thought it might be nice if I cooked something from it. It's a book that I have looked at often and have gone to the trouble of adorning with Post It notes in preparation for cooking some of the delicious looking recipes that are therein, but I find myself looking at it for the beautiful images of the people and places from the country from which the book takes its name. I find myself mesmerised by minarets, attracted by Anatolia, and curious about Constantinople and then I have to put the book down to deal with British stuff - Lola and Finn mainly - never actually getting a pan out to actually cook something.
Well, things have changed. I picked this recipe because it was different and, basically, because it had figs in it. Figs have played no part in this blog so far, because I am the only one in this house who appears to like them, fresh or dried. Well, I say 'like', but the fact of the matter is that I adore them and one of the very few good things about the nights drawing in and it being depressingly October like outside is that I know that sometime around now I'll be able to buy them, in handfuls if I like, as they begin to arrive here from Greece and Turkey. It makes me smile when I remember half term holidays of the dim and distant past where I would finish work on the Friday and about four hours later be checking in at the airport to escape the cold clutches of mid Autumn for one last hot hurrah in the Eastern Med. I would return to the UK a week later, tanned, chilled and with a bag full of figs, plus dried ones in my suitcase. Yes, you're right. Odd. And maybe a little obsessive.
I think the combination of fruit and meat is quite reminiscent of something like a Moroccan tagine, though with its own unique spicing rather than the ras el hanout headiness of Northern Africa. The slow cooking here produces fork tender meat, with an unctuous and fruity gravy. I served this with plain rice as it happens and Lola and Finn ate 'some'. I picked out some of the lamb and gave the quite a bit of rice which they seemed ok with. I think that the combinations of flavours produce something that might be better for a 'grown up' palate.
Anyway, I have rambled on enough. Here is the recipe:
Lamb, Fig and Onion Yahni, taken from 'Turkey' by Leanne Kitchen
Served Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad twice
300g dried figs
100ml extra virgin olive oil
5 onions, peeled leaving root end intact and then quartered
6 lamb forequarter chops (though I used 400g of diced lamb rump)
75g plain seasoned flour
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp ground allspice
250ml red wine
125ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves
Soak the figs in 250ml of boiling water for about 45 minutes
Preheat the oven to 170c
Heat half of the olive oil in a casserole over medium heat
Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until golden all over. Remove to a bowl.
Dust the lamb lightly in flour, shaking off any excess. Heat the remaining oil in the same casserole dish over medium heat and add the lamb in batches and cook until the pieces are golden all over.
Add the tomato puree and allspice. Cook it out and then add the wine and cook until slightly reduced.
Then add the stock, the figs and soaking liquid, the onions and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is tender.
Remove the bay leaves, scatter with coriander (very optional) and serve with bread, or pilaf or plain rice, like I did.