Mint & Lime Lamb
A slightly different way of cooking minted lamb I came up with, trying to think of a way to make a stew with a sharper and fresher taste that would work in the summer — while leaving some texture to the lamb. Make use of the fresh herbs you have in your garden or windowsill and this way of cooking them will make them sing.
I very strongly recommend against using dried herbs for this recipe (although it will still work it won't be as enjoyable and will defeat the whole point).
STEP BY STEP
For the stew:
- Cut the top and bottom of the onion, then slice the onion into half from the top — then slice finely as per the pictures below
- Fry the onion slices with a very small amount of oil and the lowest heat
- Add the teaspoon of chinese 5 spice, pepper and salt, stir and cook the onions until they start to brown a little bit
- Slice finely 4 cloves of garlic and add them to the onions
- Pour the passata into the onions
- Now onto the fresh herbs: scrunch-up the mints together (stem included) and while holding the little parcel firmly, slice finely and add to the sauce
- Do the same with the parsley — make sure to chop very finely
- Remove the stems from the oregano, thyme, rosemary, coarsely chop and add to the sauce
- Stir and leave to cook together for 4-5 minutes until the herbs soften
- Empty the sauce into an oven dish — you want to "line" the bottom evenly with the sauce
- Pour about 300 mL of water onto the top of the sauce — but be careful here, you want the water to sit on top of the sauce and not stir it in, so pour very gently
- Onto the lamb: have a frying pan on the highest heat and leave it to get very hot for a few minutes. Then place the lamb into the dry frying pan (no oil) and cook each side until they've browned - 5 to 8 minutes each side depending on your pan and how hot the temperature is.
- When browned, finish the lamb by pouring the lime juice over it, and when the juice has evaporated (this will happen very quickly), very carefully place the lamb pieces into the dish — you want them to be in the water layer but to kind of sit on top of the sauce — try not to push the pieces into it.
- Place a piece of parchment paper over the dish. If you have a fan oven you might find useful to place a small heavy object on top so the parchment paper doesn't fly around the oven. The idea here is to prevent the water from evaporating but still allow the heat to move around. Do not use kitchen foil, it will only keep the heat in and won't have the intended effect.
- Cook the lamb for about 60 minutes at 180C
- After 60 minutes, remove the parchment paper and leave to cook for another 45 minutes at 200C
- Serve with rice — as described below, or with minted potatoes
For the rice (200g for 3 people):
- I use a rice cooker here as it's easier but if you're not using one — here's the easiest way to cook rice. Add the rice and the spices into a frying pan with exactly twice as much water as you have rice, cover, bring to a boil, then bring the temperature down to the lowest heat for about 10-12 minutes. When all of the water has absorbed, the rice is cooked.
- For this recipe (for 2 people), use 200g of basmati rice, and exactly twice the amount of water - so 400g / 400 mL of water here.
- For each 100g of rice, add 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric (so 2 teaspoons for the 200g of rice here)
- For each 100g of rice, add half a teaspoon of chinese 5-spice (so 1 teaspoon here)
- Salt to taste
- Stir thoroughly and cook on automatic in the rice cooker, or as described above for point 1
- Add a small knob of butter (optional).
For the stew
- 600-800g stewing pieces of lamb - shoulder, shank or neck — preferably on the bone given the option
- 500g of passata
- Garden mint — about 30 cm of it
- Peppermint — about 6-10 leaves depending on the size
- A couple of heads of fresh parsley
- A spring or two of fresh rosemary
- optional a few sprigs of fresh thyme or even better, lemon thyme
- optional A couple of sprigs or fresh oregano
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion
- the juice of 2 limes
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon chinese 5-spice
For the rice
- Basmati rice (about 100g per person)
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- chinese 5-spice
- 10g to 25g butter to taste