Red-wine braised lamb shanks - serving

R is for Red wine braised lamb with chorizo

This weekend I was lucky enough to have a friend round for dinner, so decided to slow cook something i.e. put in the merest effort in the preparation and then happily left the food to its own devices  (producing some powerful flavours) whilst we watched a film and caught up.

The recipe here is ideal for lamb shanks, but alas I couldn’t get any, so settled for cutlets. I have cooked it before with shanks and the only difference with the recipe here is that it needs 30minutes overall cooking time.

I’m very partial to a Rioja wine, but this time I used Barefoot’s Merlot, with it’s dark fruit flavours complement the meat very well. The key thing about the red wine is that you need to cook with one you enjoy drinking….after all you only use half a bottle in the recipe – you can’t very well leave the other half, it wouldn’t be proper

Barefoot Merlot

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 lamb cutlets – 2 per person
  • Olive oil
  • 400ml red wine
  • 200ml balsamic vinegar
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 1 bulb of garlic – cut in half horizontally
  • 125g chorizo (cut into chunks)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and chopped into 2cm slices)
  • 1 red onion (cut into wedges)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp of black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 tbsp honey

Lamb cutlets - browning

Recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Season the lamb with a little salt and pepper. Add the oil to a large frying pan, and once hot add the lamb cutlets (or shanks) and brown – turning every couple of minutes to ensure an even colour.
  2. Put a large ovenproof pan (with a lid) over a high heat and add the wine and balsamic vinegar and leave to boil for 5 minutes. Then add the browned lamb shanks, garlic, bay leaves, stock, paprika, peppercorns and 2 of the sprigs of rosemary.
  3. Leave the pan to come to the boil again (with the lid on). As soon as it reaches a boil, move to the oven and leave for 1hour 30 minutes. Set a timer and forget about it, whilst you enjoy the remaining wine…and perhaps another bottle.
  4. After the timer is up, take the pan out the oven. There may be an initial waft of balsamic vinegar as it escapes, but if you try the liquid now, you’ll notice the vinegar flavour has already mellowed a lot and there will be no trace of alcohol flavours. Add the chorizo, carrots, red onion and the remaining rosemary and return to the oven for another hour – again set a timer to be sure.
  5. After the hour is up, you’ll find the meat is almost falling off the bone. Using a slotted spoon remove the lamb, chorizo and vegetables – I put this on a platter and cover with tin foil to keep warm. Then put the remaining sauce over a high hob heat and boil for 10 minutes to further reduce and intensify the flavours.
  6. Serve up the meat, veg and a good slosh of the sauce with mash potato if you’re in the mood for it and presto – an impressive, warming and flavourful dinner.

Red-wine braised lamb shanks

Red-wine braised lamb shanks

Red-wine braised lamb shanks - serving

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Paella

P is for Paella

Before I even start this blog entry, I’m going to apologise to any Spanish people reading this. This recipe is not a traditional paella and even more heinous is the fact it contains…chorizo – one of my favourite foods – but something that no Spanish person would ever consider adding to a traditional paella! So please excuse a Brit for combining some of has favourite Spanish flavours into one dish. The recipe title may be better described as a spanish inspired surf-and-turf risotto….but then I probably risk insulting the Italian’s risotto, so let’s just crack on.

The recipe here serves two greedy portions, and could easily feed three with a few accompaniments (ciabatta with balsamic and extra virgin olive oil, a few designer rocket leaves etc.)

Paella - chorizo, bacon and onion

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 100g chorizo cut into chunks – not finely sliced
  • 180g paella rice (Arborio rice – the one used in risottos will also work if you can’t get paella rice)
  • 4 rashers of streaky bacon – cut into small pieces
  • 10 king prawns
  • 1 onion – finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
  • 800ml chicken stock
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 200g frozen peas
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Recipe:

  1. Cut the chicken breasts up into small pieces and fry in a little olive oil over a medium heat until cooked and starting to get a golden touch.
  2. Take the chicken out the frying pan and set aside. Then add the onion, garlic, chorizo and bacon and fry until the onions have softened. You will not need to add any oil, as the chorizo will start to ooze its oils after a couple of minutes and the bacon has more than enough fat in it. You may need to turn the heat down after a couple of minutes so the chorizo doesn’t crisp too much but the onion is just cooked enough and has absorbed some of those vibrant, orange colours and flavours.
  3. Whilst the onions and pork is cooking, add the saffron to the chicken stock and allow to infuse for a few moments, before adding 3/4 of the liquid to another large shallow pan with paella rice and smoked paprika. It should take about 20 minutes to cook over a low-medium heat.
  4. With 10 minutes left to go, most of the liquid should have been absorbed and the paella rice should be soft with a golden yellow colour. Add the remaining stock with the prawns and frozen peas. Turn up to a medium heat.
  5. In the final 5 minutes, stir in the cooked chicken, chorizo, bacon, onion and garlic and wait for the last of the stock to be incorporated, then it’s ready to serve!

Paella