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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Shank you very much

OK so this recipe actually uses lamb cutlets, not shanks, but I couldn't come up with anything relevant that rhymes with cutlet. Or indeed anything that rhymes with cutlet.

The cutlets were the protein hit of a meal that I made to thank the friends who had been housing me for the past few weeks in the final stages of my 'of no fixed address' phase. The menu was quite easy to come up with, as I wanted to show off a couple of recipes that I had recently discovered and which went together very nicely. The dessert recipe is a bit of an old faithful for me though, and is one of the favourite dishes of one of my lovely hosts, so it was a bit of a no brainer to choose.

On the menu for this meal:
  • Spiced lamb cutlets
  • Roasted sweet potato and beetroot salad

  • Beans with pancetta crumbs

  • Mulled wine pears with spiced stuffing

Spiced Lamb Cutlets
(adapted from Taste.com.au)

12 lamb cutlets
Lemon juice
Olive oil spray
5 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dried garlic granules
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Combine all spices, mixing well.
2. Rub the spice mix well into both sides of the cutlets.
3. Preheat a griddle pan or frying pan until quite hot.
4. Drizzle lemon juice over both sides of the cutlets, to prevent the spices from burning.
5. Spray pan with olive oil and add cutlets, frying on both sides until medium (I am still learning how to cook red meat, and find pressing into the meat with my finger to check the firmness really helps to determine how well done the meat is. You want there to be some resistance, but not too much firmness to the meat when it is cooked medium.).
6. Remove from pan and allow to rest on paper towel prior to serving.

Spiced lamb cutlets

Roasted Sweet Potato and Beetroot Salad
(adapted from The West Australian newspaper)

Ingredients (this makes a lot, to serve 8-10 as a side)
4 big orange sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Olive oil spray
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 big beetroot, rubbed well and cut into chunks
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
50 g butter
2 Tb dukkah (I didn't measure, but this is what the recipe says)
150 g creamy feta, crumbled (again, I didn't measure this out)

1. Preheat your oven to 200 C.
2. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper and spray the paper with a little oil.
3. Place the beetroot chunks/cubes in a single layer on the tray and spray with oil. Sprinkle over salt and pepper. Place into oven.
4. Repeat this process for the sweet potato. Put into oven half an hour after the beetroot.
5. The recipe says that the sweet potato and beetroot will both be cooked in 20 minutes, which might possibly be true in magical super-roasting land. I have found, making this twice now, that the beetroot tends to take an hour until it is sufficiently tender while the sweet potato takes around half an hour. Just check how tender they are with a fork, feeling free to test a few chunks with your mouth too :)
6. Heat the pomegranate molasses and butter in a small saucepan, stirring until well combined.
7. Mix the beetroot and sweet potato together in a serving dish and drizzle over the molasses/butter mixture.
8. Scatter the dukkah over the top, following with the feta.

Roasted sweet potato and beetroot salad

Beans with Pancetta Crumbs
(adapted from Taste.com.au)

100 g sliced pancetta
1 Tb olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup fresh wholegrain breadcrumbs
350 g green beans, topped
250 g butter beans, topped

1. Cook pancetta in a frying pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until crisp, adding a little oil if necessary. Remove to a bowl.
2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add oil, garlic and breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until golden. Add to pancetta and season with salt and pepper.
3. Steam beans until just tender.
4. Add pancetta/breadcrumb mix to beans and toss to combine.
5. Serve, making sure that everyone gets a generous amount of the pancetta crumbs which have a tendency to fall down to the bottom of the bowl!

Beans with pancetta crumbs

Mulled Wine Pears with Spiced Stuffing
(from New Vegetarian by Celia Brooks Brown)

Mulled Pear Ingredients
4 firm ripe pears
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways
250 mL freshly squeezed orange juice
500 mL red wine
125 g sugar
grated zest of 2 lemons
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
creme fraiche (or whatever you like), to serve

Spiced Stuffing Ingredients
75 g hazelnuts
1 Tb soft brown sugar
2 Tb currants or sultanas
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
A large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 Tb (or less) orange flower water
A large pinch of sea salt

Pear Method
1. Peel the pears, leaving the stems intact. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each one, so they stand upright, and scoop out the cores with a teaspoon.
2. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into a large saucepan, then add the pod and the orange juice, red wine, sugar, lemon zest, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Gently lower the pears on their side into the pan and simmer, turning frequently in the poaching liquid, for 30 minutes or until tender (depending on ripeness).
4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set aside to cool.
5. Strain the liquid and return to the pan. Heat until reduced and syrupy. Let cool.

Spiced Stuffing Method
1. Roast the hazelnuts in a preheated oven at 200 C for 5 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool. Put in food processor, whizz until ground, then add the remaining ingredients and pulse until mixed.
Note: I actually grind up the nuts using a mortar and pestle, and then just mix this with the rest of the ingredients. I think it's nice to have the sultanas intact. I also find that 1 1/2 Tb of orange blossom water is too much, and just add it a little at a time until the mixture is holding together nicely.
2. Spoon the mixture into the hollowed-out poached pears and spread a thin layer on the bottom of each one (this will help the pears stand upright when you put them on the plates).
3. Serve with the syrup poured over and a dollop of creme fraiche.

For this particular incarnation of my mulled wine pears I served them with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a dollop of Connoisseur Cafe Grande icecream.

Mulled wine pear with spiced stuffing, served with natural yoghurt and Cafe Grande icecream

The inner goodness of my pear, about to be devoured

All of these recipes are quite straightforward and produce delicious results with really gutsy, interesting flavours. Gutsy? I've been watching too much MasterChef. Anyway, I recommend you give them a try! The pears in particular are really very delicious, and always very well received. You can make them in advance, in the afternoon of the evening you wish to serve them, leaving you free to enjoy the other fruits of your labour. If serving with gelato I challenge you to quennelle it. If you can pull this off for 4 servings without being left with bowls of molten gelato I will tip my hat to you and buy you a beer.


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