Monday, 19 May 2014

Greek Lamb & Pasta Stew

I absolutely love this recipe- which I have cooked variations of before - the lamb gets really tender, the pasta soaks up the rich sauce and the salty feta sprinkled over is a perfect counterpoint. And, as is always marvellous, it gets chucked in the oven to transform into a delicious one-pot dish.

What I actually did here was freeze, at the point where it had cooled overnight, half of the stew and then used half of the amount of pasta, feta etc quoted to finish off (just in case you wondered from the photos). Be aware that you don’t have to cool it and eat the next day - it will just taste a bit (even) better if you do. Feel free to just carry on with the next stage at that point though if you don't want to wait.

And speaking of feta, Nigella throws some parsley or oregano along with the feta over the finished dish but I felt that even though this is supposed to have a Greek rather than Italian feel it would suit a sprinkling of gremolata perfectly so i made some and mixed that in with the feta before sprinkling over

Greek Lamb & Pasta Stew
serves 4

2-3 tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed
800g boned shoulder of lamb, trimmed of excess fat and cut into cubes
about 1½ by 2½ in
1-2 medium onions (or half a massive one), sliced finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
½ tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, peeled, halved lengthways, and then cut into 3 across
400g tin chopped tomatoes
200ml lamb stock
250ml dry white wine
freshly ground black pepper
150g macaroni pasta
100g feta cheese
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped 

zest of 1 lemon
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 165C.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large cast iron casserole and brown the lamb in batches over a medium-high heat, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a plate or bowl as you go.

Turn the heat down to low, adding a little more oil if necessary. Add the onions, with a pinch of salt, and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft and translucent.

Add the garlic, celery, thyme, and oregano and cook for a couple of minutes more.

Add the meat to the vegetable mixture along with the bay leaves, carrots, tomatoes, stock and wine. The liquid needs to at the least completely cover the meat and vegetable - remember you will also be adding pasta later so if necessary add some water too.

Bring to a boil, removing any scum that rises to the surface, and let it bubble for a few minutes.

Cover and transfer to the oven for about 2 to 2½ hours until lovely and tender. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Let the stew cool and when it is, transfer, covered to the fridge. Make sure you do take it out of the fridge again about 2 hours before you’ll be cooking and skim any fat that has solidified off the top.

Add 200ml lamb stock to the stew and reheat on the hob until it is piping hot. Add the pasta about 10-20 mins before you want to eat - making sure there is enough liquid & juices to cover all the pasta: remember that the pasta will absorb some of that liquid.

At the point that you add the pasta to the stew, mix the feta, parsley, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil together so the flavours can meld and set aside.

When the pasta is cooked, ladle the stew into shallow bowls and serve with the feta-gremolata in a bowl in the middle of the table so people can sprinkle over as they wish.

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