Garlic, herb and lemon slow roasted lamb

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Now here is a recipe that is too good not to share- my garlic, herb and lemon slow roasted lamb. This can be used for either lamb leg or shoulder and it is ideal for a lazy Sunday roast dinner or for entertaining. Lamb is now in season in the UK so it is the perfect time to get your hands on some and make the most of it. I recently cooked this for Easter lunch and it went down a storm! For 4 people I used a half leg of lamb which meant that everyone was well fed but there were certainly no leftovers! If you have large appetites, want leftovers or if you are feeding the 5,000 then by all means use a larger joint and cook for longer until the meat is falling off the bone.

If you have time then you can prepare the lamb the night before you want to start cooking it by following the first step, covering tightly and leaving in the fridge to allow the flavours to infuse.

Ingredients- serves 4
Half leg of lamb
Handful each of fresh thyme and rosemary
2 bulbs of garlic
1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
300ml water or white wine

1. If preparing the meat either the night before or the morning of cooking then all you need to do is find a deep tray that will comfortably fit the half leg in and pop it in. Peel around 4 cloves of garlic, cut them into quarters and use a sharp knife to make slits in the lamb; pop a sliver of garlic into each slit. Scatter the remaining garlic cloves around the lam in the bottom of the tray. Drizzle the lamb with a little olive oil and rub so it is well coated; season well. Cut the remaining bulb in half width ways and place in the tray cut side up. Scatter the herbs too. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the lemon rind and place on and around the lamb. If preparing in advance, at this stage cover well and refrigerate. If cooking then and there, read on…

2. Preheat the oven to 140c/ 120 fan. Pour the water or wine, depending on what you are using, into the tray. Cover tightly with foil and place on the middle or low shelf in the oven and cook for around 4-5 hours. The time will depend on the size of the joint so check and baste from time to time. If the bottom of the tray becomes too dry then add another splash of water. When the lamb is nearly ready, remove the foil and allow the lamb to catch some colour and turn golden. The juices should run clear and the meat should come away from the bone with ease. Remove from the oven and rest whilst you make other accompaniments.

Garlic, herb and lemon slow roasted lamb- a sure fire crowd pleaser that’s packed with flavour but that needs very little care!

 

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Wild boar forest pie

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Wild boar is a meat that a lot of people have heard of and maybe seen on a restaurant menu but few have cooked at home. To get the maximum flavour and richness from wild boar it needs to be cooked low and slow so this pie recipe is a perfect introduction to it. In keeping with autumn ingredients I have paired the boar with the earthiness of porcini as it is wild mushroom season after all. This pie can be made in advance and is a great crowd pleaser. I made the boar sauce a couple of days before I needed it which really intensified the flavour. Not only do you get a pie recipe with this but you can also use  the wild boar base as a ragu which is delicious with pasta or creamy polenta so you get two ideas for one here!

Now just a quick word about mashed potato. I know potato ricers are popular up and down the country for a super smooth mash but I prefer to use a little (read ‘lot’) of elbow grease and mash for England with a good old stick masher! Yes, it is more time and labour intensive but it is still just as smooth so pick your weapon of choice and get mashing!

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Ingredients- serves 4
Vegetable oil
400g wild boar- diced into large chunks
1 large white onion -chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Small pack of pancetta (optional)
20g dried porcini mushrooms- soaked
1 carrot- finely chopped
2 celery sticks- finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
100ml red wine
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
300ml beef stock
Fresh thyme, bay leaves and 4 juniper berries
5 Maris Piper potatoes- peeled and halved
Unsalted butter
Milk
Salt and pepper

1. Get cracking by preheating the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Take a large casserole pan and heat a good glug of oil over a medium to high heat. Add the chunks of boar and cook to brown them off. You can do this in a couple of batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan as this does not make for beautifully golden meat. When browned, remove the boar and set aside.

2. Next up keep the meat juices in the pan and cook the garlic, onion and pancetta (if using) until the onion is softened and the pancetta is turning golden. Pop in the carrot and celery and cook for a further couple of minutes. Stir through the tomato puree and make sure it is all well combined.

3. Add the red wine and reduce by half before the stock, tomatoes and porcini go in. Pop in the herbs, juniper berries and season. Cover the pan and cook in the oven for 3 hours until the boar is tender and simply falls apart. Towards the end of cooking check the boar and the sauce should have reduced down; if it is still a bit too loose, simply remove the lid and finish off or simmer on the hob with the lid off. When the sauce is thick, remove from the heat and set aside as you make the mash.

4. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until they are tender when you prick them with a knife; drain well. Now for the bit that takes tasting to get spot on! Mash the potatoes like your life depends on it and add as much butter as your heart will take so give a creamy mash. Add a glug or two of milk if you like. Keep tasting as you go (I know, such a hardship!) until you end up with a creamy, well seasoned mash.

5. When the boar has cooled slightly, tip it into a large ovenproof dish and you are ready to top it with the potato. Now here comes another choice for you: to pipe or to dollop (very technical!) that is the question? I kept it simple for myself on this occasion and spooned some of the mash on before using the back of a spoon to smooth it over the boar. Take a fork and use the tines to lightly make indents. Top with a little freshly grated parmesan if you like and bake at 200c/ 180fan for around 30 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Wild boar and porcini forest pie- time to reinvent the classic cottage pie!

 

 

 

Roasted garlic, thyme and parmesan potato dauphinoise

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If there is one dish that is a sure fire crowd pleaser and ultimate comfort food then it has to be this! Potato dauphinoise is classic and mainstay of French cuisine and here it has a revamp to add even more flavour to it. This can be enjoyed with a range of main dishes however steak does it for me every time! Taking inspiration from French cooking I have added roasted garlic and thyme to ramp up the flavour. Now this may not be considered health (far from it in fact!) but a little of what you fancy does you good so read on and indulge yourself…

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Ingredients- serves 4
Knob of unsalted butter
1 small garlic bulb
800g Maris Piper potatoes- peeled
Fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
300ml double cream
Freshly grated parmesan- optional

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Cut the top of the garlic bulb and wrap it in foil and drizzle with a little oil before baking for around 20 minutes until the garlic is soft. Allow to cool before squeezing the garlic from the bulb and mashing with the back of a fork. Take an ovenproof dish that will be large enough for you to fit the sliced potato in. Use a knob of butter and run it all over the inside of the dish to stop the potatoes from sticking when they cook.

2. Carefully use a knife or mandolin with the guard on to thinly slice the potatoes. Use any larger slices to create the first layer in the dish and make sure the slices slightly overlap; season with salt and pepper before adding some of the thyme leaves and a little of the roasted garlic. Repeat until the potatoes are used up and remember to season each layer well.

3. Press the layers down slightly and pour over the double cream. Allow it to soak through the potatoes and finish with some freshly grated parmesan, if you like. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes until the potatoes are tender and bubbling. I often cover the dish with foil for most of the cooking time before removing towards the end to brown in off but this will depend on your oven. When ready, remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

Roasted garlic, thyme and parmesan potato dauphinoise- a gratin to stand the test of time!

 

 

Caramelised balsamic shallot tarte tatin

If you think of a tarte tatin, people will conjure up images of deliciously sweet and syrupy apple desserts however think again! This tarte tatin is savoury, moreish and there’s not a single apple in sight. I have previously made an onion tarte tatin however you just can’t beat the softeness of the shallot with its gentle flavour which goes perfectly with the tartness of the balsamic and the savouriness of the pastry. Balsamic and thyme is a match made in heaven so I have included this in the caramel and also sprinkled some more leaves over the top to finish. I used normal shallots however banana shallot will also work well.

Readymade puff pastry sheets tend to be quite large and may need cutting down. You will need to make sure the pastry round is slightly larger than the pan itself so the pastry can be tucked in snuggly.

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Ingredients- makes one tart which serves 2 for dinner
400g shallots
25g butter
1 tbsp balsamic
1 tbsp brown sugar
Salt
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 premade puff pastry sheet

1. Double check the instructions on the puff pastry you buy but otherwise preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan ready for action shortly. In the meantime, boil a kettle of water and pour into a heat proof bowl that is large enough to hold the shallots. Soak the shallots for 10 minutes before removing, allowing to cool and then peeling them. Carefully cut the shallots in half from end to end so they stay together as best as they can and set aside.

2. Take a frying pan that is around 22cm in diameter. Heat the butter, sugar and balsamic vinegar along with the leaves from several fresh thyme sprigs. Season lightly. Place the shallots cut side down in the pan. Cook on the hob over a low to medium heat until the shallots start to soften which will take around 10 minutes. Don’t be tempted to cook them on a high heat otherwise the balsamic mixture will burn. You will find the balsamic reduces down a bit which is what you want.

3. Take the puff pastry sheet and gently lay it across the top of the shallots. Tuck the sides in so they hug the shallots and cook in the oven for around 20 minutes until golden and cooked through. You can tell if it needs a little longer as pastry may look paler in places. When cooked, remove the pan from the oven and get ready to turn it out. Lay a board or serving plate across the top of the pan and turn it over. If the pastry needs a little hand then use a knife and run it around the edge to help loosen it. Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot pan or with the hot juices. If a shallot or two is stuck to the bottom of the pan, gently coax it off and pop back in its rightful place. Serve with a simple salad.

Balsamic and thyme shallot tart tatin- a savoury twist on a French classic!

 

Traditional Welsh cawl

Cawl is a traditional Welsh stew that could not be simpler to make so give it a go. It is made with whatever meat (or meats) and seasonal vegetables were available so there is room for experimentation! The lamb could also be substituted with beef or a ham joint if you prefer. This is a perfect opportunity to try crumbly Caerphilly cheese if you have not had it before so dig in!

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Ingredients- serves 4
450g lamb casserole steak
25g pearl barley
2 sliced carrots
1 onion sliced
1/2 chopped swede
1 leeks in chunks
400g potatoes in chunks
Sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
5 black peppercorns

1. Trim the meat and cut into large chunks. Add to large heavy based pan, top up with plenty of water and bring to a boil. As the meat comes to the boil you will see residue that needs to be skimmed off the top.

2. Next in goes the barley, carrot, onion and swede; bring back to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Bundle together the thyme and bay leaves and drop these in alongside the peppercorns and simmer for 2 hours.

3. When the stew has been simmering for a couple of hours pop in the potatoes and simmer for 20 minutes followed by the leeks which need to be cooked for 5- 10 minutes until tender.  Serve in deep, warmed bowls with a good hunk of Caerphilly cheese and fresh bread.

Simple, warming and authentic!

Garlic, lemon and herb slow roasted lamb

If you think that slow roasting meat means having to be tied to the oven all day then think again! Lamb shoulder is the perfect cut to pop in the oven whilst you carry on about your daily business before coming back to it later when it’s tender and succulent. Slow roasting brings out the best of the flavour whilst keeping ingredients simple and fresh.

I used half a lamb shoulder which will comfortably feed four but if you have more people to serve than buy a whole shoulder and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Remember that lamb tastes better if you have time to marinade it in advance but also don’t keep it in the fridge up until the minute you want to cook it- let it rest at room temperature for about an hour.

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Ingredients- serves 4
Half a lamb shoulder
1 lemon
4 cloves of garlic (or more if you are a garlic fiend!)
Fresh thyme and oregano- dried will work too
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to season
200ml dry white wine

1.Start the day before if you can so the flavours of the marinade get plenty of time to work their magic. Peel the garlic cloves and cut into halves or thirds, depending on their size. Make incisions into the lamb and slide a piece of garlic into each one. Rub the herbs, oil and seasoning into the lamb all over. I then pared some lemon zest and scattered it all around the lamb before squeezing over a little of the juice. Cover the lamb and pop in the oven to do its thing!

2. When you are ready to cook, bring the lamb up to room temperature and preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. This may seem like a high oven but this is only for the first stage of cooking so don’t despair! Transfer the lamb to a roasting tray with its lemon and all and place on parchment paper. Bring the sides of the paper up before sloshing in a glass of white wine (you could also use water) and wrap loosely. Cook at 200c/ 180fan for 10 minutes before lowering the oven to 150c/ 130fan. Check the timings on the lamb you buy but for half a shoulder you are looking at around 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Some recipes will tell you uncover the lamb for the last hour of cooking but I don’t find this is necessary and I prefer to keep it covered to look in all the flavour.

When the lamb is ready the juices will run clear. Allow to rest before carving and enjoy with roasted potatoes and vegetables. Keep an eye out for little slivers of beautifully sweet roasted garlic- don’t waste them!

Slow roasted lamb with garlic, lemon and herbs- a perfect recipe for a lazy Sunday afternoon!

 

Venison sausage, cavolo nero and bean casserole

This time each year I usually come across a vegetable that then becomes a borderline food obsession and this year it’s cavolo nero’s turn. Cavolo nero, also known as black cabbage or Italian kale, is perfect for pepping up soups, stews and pastas. I have kept this recipe as simple as possible so each constituent ingredient can be tasted and savoured. I used venison sausages for this recipe as the rich flavour goes well with the irony flavour of the cavolo nero and the creamy cannellini beans. A lot of casseroles and stews use red wine in the base but I have gone for a dark ale to create depth in place of wine so give it a try!

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Ingredients- serves 3
Vegetable oil
6 good quality venison sausages
1 large red onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely sliced or crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
250ml dark ale or porter
400g tinned cannellini beans
400ml hot beef stock
400ml passata
Handful of fresh thyme
1 head of cavolo nero- washed and chopped

1. Start by preheating the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Take a large casserole pan and add a glug of oil; heat to medium and brown off the sausages. Turn them as you go to ensure they are uniformly golden; remove from the pan when they are ready, cut into thirds or quarters and set aside.

2. Using the same pan, fry the onion and garlic together for a few minutes until they soften but don’t colour. I add salt at this point to help draw the moisture from the onions. If you have found that the sausages have given quite a bit of fat then do drain some of this away before adding the onions. Next up goes the tomato puree which should be stirred through the onion and garlic to give a coating; cook for a minute or two before adding the ale. Reduce the volume of the ale by half.

3. Add the beans to the pan and combine well with the onion, garlic and ale mix before adding the stock and passata. Drop in the thyme and add the sausage and cavolo nero; bring to a gentle boil before popping in the oven for 60-75 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if the cavolo nero looks like a lot- it will cook down as the casserole is in the oven. Serve with a creamy mound of mashed potato or hunks of bread and enjoy.

Venison sausage, cavolo nero and bean casserole- a satisfying dinner for those dark, chilly nights!