Winter on the farm, 256pp.
by Matthew Evans
Murdoch Books Australia, Millers Point NSW, 2011
Cooking on page 132
It’s still winter in Australia so when we got home from our travels (going by road from Tehran to Beijing) a few weeks ago, this book seemed the perfect place to find a warming meal.
Matthew Evans is a food critic, chef and author of the popular The real food companion. He grows much of his own produce on his farm in Tasmania, which is also the setting for his TV series The gourmet farmer.
Page 32 introduces his chapter on hearty soups, but there aren’t any recipes there. I was tempted by the beer, cheese and onion soup recipe on page 37, but being faithful to this blog’s parameters, I moved on to page 132.
Sicilian-style braised lamb shoulder with wild fennel and potato
1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) lamb shoulder, boned, trimmed of fat, cut into roughly 6 cm (2 1/2 inch) square chunks
1 big handful wild fennel tops, or use cultivated if need be
2 whole garlic blubs, halved through the middle
4 large onions, diced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) waxy potatoes, such as Dutch cream, scrubbed and quartered
Put the lamb into a large flameproof casserole dish or cast-iron pot with a tight0fitting lid. Add the fennel tops, garlic bulbs, onion, salt, pepper and 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) water.
Cover and place over high heat until is just starts to simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hours.
When the meat is near enough to tender, push the potatoes down into the cooking juices and continue cooking for a further 1 hour.
At this point it may be nice to cool the dish overnight and skim off the fat before reheating and eating. If you’re in a hurry, skim off any of the liquid fat and eat the same day.
How it played out
I shopped for a nice piece of shoulder (all cuts of lamb are so plentiful in Australia), but I was lured instead to a small bone-in leg. Shoulder was priced at $10.99 a kilo, while leg was so cheap at $7.99 on special. Sometimes it’s as much as $15 a kilo.
It took me about 20 minutes to bone the leg and get rid of all the fat. Thank goodness I have sharp knives—and a dog to enjoy the bone.
Everything else was so quick and easy to bring together, although I had only a scant handful of tops from two store-bought fennel bulbs.
As suggested, I did leave the dish overnight, but I’d trimmed the fat so well that there was almost nothing to skim off.
Served with a lemon fennel salad, green beans and another page-32 recipe—spiced carrot and orange salad, using some delicious blood oranges.
A wonderfully warming and melt-in-your-mouth dish for a wintry night. And, oh, the wonderful smells in the kitchen! Just wish I’d had more fennel tops and used four bulbs of garlic.
And please be sure to stop by my travel blog.