Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lamb shanks with broad beans

Serves 4

If it's not a pie, it's got to be a braised dish, and lamb shanks don't often fail to hit the mark. This was last night's number, cooked the day before and reheated gently to devour - better depth of flavour and maturity on the 2nd day for sure. The juice, as much as the meat, is where this dish really is, rich and heady, mopped up with anything and everything that comes to hand, one of those nights where someone to offer a belly rub at the end of it all perfects the ultimate dining experience, for me anyway...

1 tblsp olive oil
4 lamb shanks
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 fresh bouquet garni (sprig each of parsley and thyme, and a bay leaf)
400ml white wine
400g new potatoes
400g shelled broad beans, individually skinned (see below)
2 tblsp chopped fresh mint
3 tblsp crème fraîche

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Lightly oil a roasting tin, add the lamb shanks and season, then place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.

Add the onions, garlic and bouquet garni to the roasting tin and roast for a further 20 minutes.

Add the wine and new potatoes to the lamb, mix well with the juices and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes. Add the prepared beans and return to the oven for 10 minutes.

When the lamb is cooked through, remove from the roasting tin and keep warm. Place the tin directly on the stove top and bring the juices to a simmer. Stir in the chopped mint and crème fraîche.

Serve the lamb shanks in wide bowls and ladle in the vegetables and juice.

Note: to skin fresh broad beans, plunge them into a pan of boiling water for 4 minutes, then drain and peel off the skins. If using frozen beans they can be peeled once defrosted.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Prawn laksa with noodles

Serves 4

Last night was a laksa, beer, sofa and a couple of badly pirated dvd's at home, and should anyone have experienced a better combo than that, I need to know about it as soon as possible please. Laksa is as comforting as it is fragrant, as rich as it is satisfying and way easier than you realise once you get the balance of spice and acid in the soup just right. If you increase the quantity of noodles to 200g in this recipe, it can be served as a main course. Don’t be put off by the length of this, all but the final cooking of the prawns can be done well in advance

20 whole raw prawns (about 675g)

6 tblsp sunflower oil

1 litre good chicken stock

2 onions, halved and finely sliced

3 tblsp toasted sesame oil

4 large shallots, finely diced

2 Thai chillies (or to taste), finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 tblsp peeled ginger, cut into fine shreds

100g creamed coconut

1 tbsp Thai fish sauce

2 tsp Kikkoman soy sauce

170g dried vermicelli rice noodles

2 large handfuls of coriander leaves

2 limes, halved

Twist off the prawn heads and peel away their shells. Heat 2 tblsp sunflower oil in a noncorrosive saucepan over a high heat. Add the prawn heads and shells, then stir-fry briskly for 2-3 minutes until they turn pink. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain and set aside.

Heat the remaining sunflower oil in a nonstick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced onions and stir-fry for a minute before reducing the heat to medium-low. Sauté for 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until they turn slightly crisp and golden brown. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and spread them out on kitchen paper to drain.

Clean the peeled prawns by running a knife down the length of their backs and removing the black digestive thread. Cover and chill.

Pour the sesame oil into a large saucepan and set over a medium heat. Add the shallots, chillies, garlic and ginger, then fry for 6 minutes until golden. Melt the creamed coconut in hot water in the sachets, then mix into the shallots with the prawn stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for a minute before adding the fish sauce, soy sauce and raw prawns. Simmer gently for 3 minutes until the prawns are pink and cooked through.

Prepare the noodles in hot water according to packet instructions, then divide between four soup bowls. Add the coriander leaves to the piping-hot soup, pour over the noodles and sprinkle with the fried onions. Serve immediately with the lime halves, or season the soup with lime juice to taste, then serve