8 February 2013

Lamb Ragu

I'm not a huge fan of lamb, as you'll see if you click on 'Lamb' in the cloud on the right. However, in my frenzy to cook as much as possible from Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration and because the picture looked so damn yummy I decided to try  out her Lamb Ragu. She also describes it as one of her 'go to weekday suppers' and well, I was having friends to supper, it was a Thursday, I thought I'd give it a try. Typically it was the picture that made me want to cook, and eat, this recipe and what with feeding the baby, putting him to bed, cooking and drinking vast amounts of wine I forgot to take a picture. I'll add one next time I cook it. And there will be a next time.

Nigella always bangs on about these exciting types of pasta that I vow to get next time I'm near anywhere that sells such a thing but I always end up ordering online from Sainsburys, so instead of the mafaldine or pappardelle that the recipe requires, I used good old tagliatelle and it worked just fine.This is a great alternative to normal bolognaise as the lamb mince can be in the freezer and everything else is store cupboard stuff. I have to admit that I left off the fresh mint and I'm not a huge fan and added a squirt of tomato ketchup towards the end of cooking as I felt it needed a little sweetness... whether you decide to do that or not is up to you.

Lamb Ragu

Serves 2

1 ½ tbsp garlic oil
1 banana shallot, chopped
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
250g minced lamb
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tsp redcurrant jelly
1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
200g mafaldine or pappardelle (or whatever pasta you can find)
Fresh mint, to serve (optional)

I doubled the quantities and cooked this in a round le creuset but a heavy bottomed saucepan with a lid would do just as well. Whatever you usually put your bolognaise in basically. I also cooked this on a low heat for about double the amount of time because that was easier when you have people coming over.

1. Put a large pan of water on to boil, then warm the garlic oil in a small, heavy-based pan (with a lid) and cook the shallots, stirring, for 2 minutes.

2. Sprinkle in the herbs and chilli, stirring again in the hot pan before adding the mean and cooking for a couple of minutes, stirring to break it up with a wooden spatula or spoon until it loses a bit of the pinkness.

3. Add the tomatoes, redcurrant jelly, Worcestershire sauce, pinch of salt and some grindings of pepper, give it a good stir and bring to the boil, then partially cover with the lid and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Salt the pasta water and cook the pasta according the instructions, and your taste.

5. Once the pasta is cooked, and not too efficiently drained, return the pasta to the pan and dress it with the ragu. Spinkle a little fresh mint and serve.

1 February 2013

Vietnamese/Thai Dressing

I have always been convinced that my mother is possibly the worlds greatest cooks and one of the contributing factors (apart from her ability to get everyone to like cooked cabbage) is her genius with leftover turkey. My family all love turkey but I have a particular horror of leftovers... any leftovers. All greasy with secret bones and grisly bits they really make me sad but not so the leftover turkey in the Holmes household. My mother manages to make genuinely yummy things with anything that remains from our festive bird including an amazing Thai salad with noodles, lots of mint and the most spectacular dressing which I have only recently discovered she pinched from Nigella Bites. Joe and I have deployed it twice this week - firstly with left over pork belly in a normal salad and then with defrosted beef strips in a noodle salad.The recipe for the dressing doesn't include mint but if you are Thai-ing up leftovers then get some mint... it's the only time I can stand it apart from in Mojito's and Pimms.

Vietnamese/Thai Dressing

Makes enough for a salad for 2-4

1 red chili, seeded and minced
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp rice vinegar
1 ½ tbsp lime juice
1 ½ tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
1 ½ tbsp vegetable oil
half a medium onion finely sliced
black pepper

I use a shallot for this as that's what I usually have - can't bear to have half an onion loitering in the fridge.

1. Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and put to one side for half an hour. Then deploy.

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