16 July 2012

Cooking mindfully and roast goat

Children don't need to practice being 'in the moment' like I do. Their play takes them there easily. This was the result of a satisfyingly old-fashioned war game between cousins and friends in which the missiles were scrunched up newspaper. (They picked them all up at the end!)

A couple of big chunks of my days away were spent cooking for special dinners. I was determined to enjoy the process rather than think about other ways I could have filled the hours: I had great recipes, all the ingredients I needed, and time to do it while the children played. I thought of the pleasure of eating it with friends and family.

My first cooking session included a wonderful Moroccan-flavoured lamb leg. The recipe (below) was kindly emailed by my sister-in-law. I have no photo - which is fortunate or you may drool - and it was the most succulent, flavour-filled lamb you can imagine, requiring only forks to 'carve' it.

The second cooking session featured a tripled batch of chocolate self-saucing pudding, which easily filled a roasting dish! The recipe is here (scroll down a short way to find it) and it was rich and wonderful, and even better the day after. It was shared with a group of old friends and the gorgeous children we've all produced in the last few years.

One of the friends is renowned for hassling people, very wittily and - in the past at least - extremely frequently. So it was kind of fun to 'reassure' him as he went to serve his pudding that he needn't worry about his already-full belly: this one is low-fat, I said. "Good, I can have even more," said he. Afterwards, as he sat there groaning, I knew I'd duped him. I didn't dare tell him about the king-sized bars of chocolate in the dish.

This isn't his tummy but we all felt like this:

And the roast goat? Our hosts decided to follow Al Brown's recipe from his book 'Stoked'. It wasn't exactly tender, but it tasted respectably like meat and was fun to try. I reckon it would go well in place of lamb in the recipe below.

Baked Tagine of Lamb with Apricots and Honey

1.5-2kg lamb leg (although I used one that was bigger)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 T of ginger, grated
1 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 tsp chilli flakes (I missed this out)
1 tsp each sweet smoked paprika and cumin
1 Tbs honey and olive oil

Trim the lamb of as much fat as you can be bothered, then cut deep slashes in the meat. Combine marinade ingredients and push it into cuts and rub all over. Marinate for 6-24 hours, covered, in fridge. (I was short of time so just left it for one hour out of the fridge.)

Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat oven to 160oC.

Gather together:
2 T olive oil
2 red onions, quartered
4 carrots, quartered
2 cloves of garlic,
1 tsp each turmeric, ginger and cinnamon
2 bay leaves
21/2 cups beef stock (I just used boiling water because I know that when lamb is cooked this way it produces its own rich stock)
zest and juice of an orange
100g dried apricots, diced
1 T honey to glaze (I missed this out)
salt and pepper (I forgot about these)

In a frypan, heat oil and add onions, carrots, garlic, spices and bay leaves and fry for 10 minutes, adding a splash of water if the pan is too dry.

Add the stock, orange juice and zest. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Tip into a baking/roasting dish. Place the lamb on top, and cover tightly with foil to trap all the steam.

Bake for 3-31/2 hours. Then uncover and drizzle with honey and stir in apricots. Cook uncovered for 30 min or until the top is nicely browned. (My version: I left it in the oven for 4 1/2 hours - having turned the joint over half way through - and when I went to uncover it I saw it was already brown on top, so I just stirred the apricots into the liquid, replaced the foil on top and put it in the warming drawer for another 90 minutes or so while I roasted the potatoes, kumera, parsnips etc.) LATER NOTE: I made this again and this time I followed the recipe and uncovered it towards the end. Mistake! It dried out on top! Next time I'm leaving it covered.

A lovely sauce gathers at the bottom of the lamb which I definitely recommend using as a gravy-like accompaniment. LATER NOTE: I realised that not everyone likes the sweetness of the dried apricots in the sauce. Me, I can never get enough apricots. But next time I'll probably leave those out too, and just thicken the juice into a gravy. 

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