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Lamb - Annie Stirk's recipes

PUBLISHED: 19:38 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:01 20 February 2013

Annie Stirk

Annie Stirk

Our food and wine consultant, Annie Stirk, takes a different look at preparing lamb to feed family and friends PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDY BULMER

Yorkshire farmers produce some of the finest lamb in the country. The sweet grassy pastures of the hilly Yorkshire Dales and the gentle rolling Yorkshire Wolds produce sweet, tender and beautifully flavoured meat.

Testament to this is the growing number of Yorkshire restaurants serving up a whole range of delicious dishes using this local lamb. With provenance high on the agenda, it couldn't be a more perfect fit.

The Mediterranean flavours of fresh seasonal herbs - mint, rosemary and thyme- teamed up with new season's garlic, work really well with lamb. Young fresh vegetables including tender carrots, broad beans, garden peas and earthy new potatoes, all being harvested over the next month, also make perfect accompaniments.

I thought it would be fun to try Lamb Baked in Hay and it produced a most delicious roast, beautifully moist, lean and tender, with just a hint of the sweet aromatic grass. I hope you also enjoy the Moroccan Lamb Tagine, great if you are feeding a crowd over the summer. It is quick to prepare and extremely tasty, served with the nutty couscous. And who wouldn't enjoy the seductive aromas and flavours of barbecued lamb. So, with the promise of blue skies and sunshine on the horizon, lamb makes the perfect al fresco food.



RACK OF LAMB WITH A HERB CRUST

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 French trimmed racks of lamb

100g white bread

2 tbsp freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tbsp freshly chopped mint

1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme

1 tbsp freshly chopped rosemary

4 tbsp vegetable oil Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Method

Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7.

To prepare the herb crust, break the bread into large pieces and place in a food processor or blender until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Mix the chopped herbs with the breadcrumbs and season.

Place the racks of lamb, fat side up, on a chopping board, and generously brush the mustard over the racks, to give a good coating.

Press the herb mixture over mustard to form a good even crust.

Stand the racks in a medium-sized roasting tin, interlocking the exposed bones in a crisscross fashion.

Cover the bones with foil to prevent them burning.

Roast for 20-25 minutes, depending on how you prefer your lamb to be cooked. Slice each rack in half or cut into individual chops.

Serve with fresh minted garden peas and delicious earthy new season Jersey Royal potatoes tossed in butter


MOROCCAN LAMB TAGINE WITH CORIANDER COUSCOUS

This is a wonderfully spiced dish that works really well with this delicious local lamb from the Yorkshire Wolds. The great combination of spices gives this Moroccan classic a warming taste, without the intense heat of a curry. The quantity of spice I have used is just a guide, like most cooks I tend not to measure, so you might enjoy playing about with the amounts of spices to suit your own taste. The tagine is a great dish for any occasion - perfect for family or friends - it is very well behaved and tastes even better if you leave it in the fridge and reheat it the following day. The spices have a thickening effect too, so the result is a fabulous dish that you will hopefully want to make again and again.


MOROCCAN LAMB TAGINE

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 kg lean lamb - trimmed and cubed, use leg or shoulder- the shoulder meat will not break up as much

1 tsp chilli powder

1 level tablespoon paprika pepper

2 good tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 level tablespoon ground ginger

1 tsp black pepper Salt

Olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 large onions, diced

125g ready to eat apricots, chopped

2 tbsp seedless raisins

3 tbsp flaked almonds

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

150mls vegetable stock, plus extra to top if necessary

1 tbsp runny honey

Zest and juice of one orange

Bunch of fresh coriander to garnish

Method

Mix all the spices together including the salt and pepper, and then toss the cubes of lamb in the spice mix.

The lamb needs to be totally coated with the spice mix - so don't be nervous about sprinkling in a little extra spice.

Heat a large ovenproof casserole.

Add a couple of generous glugs of olive oil.

Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened but not brown.

Add the spiced meat and cook, turning frequently, for approximately 5-10 minutes. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary.

Stir in the chopped apricots, raisins, almonds, chopped tomatoes, stock and honey.

Zest in the orange and squeeze in the juice.


Heat until the mixture bubbles and then reduce to a gentle simmer.

Cover and cook gently on the hob or in the oven until the lamb is meltingly tender - approximately 2 hours. Keep checking the liquid level in the tagine and top up as necessary.

Garnish with some chopped coriander and serve with the coriander couscous.

CORIANDER COUSCOUS

Ingredients

450g couscous

600mls boiling vegetable stock

Olive oil

Good pinch sea salt

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tbsp chopped coriander

2 tbsp chopped mint

Rind and juice of 2 lemons

Method

Place the dried couscous in a heatproof bowl and pour in 600mls of boiling stock.

Stir well; the couscous starts to absorb the water immediately.

Cover the bowl with a plate or cling film and allow the couscous
grains to absorb the stock and become fluffy.

This will take up to 10 minutes. Remove the plate and fluff up the couscous with a fork; you might need to break up some of the clumps.

Stir in 4-5 tbsp of olive oil, this keeps the couscous nice and fluffy.

Fold in the chopped herbs plus the lemon zest and juice.

Garnish with a few coriander leaves.



LAMB BAKED IN HAY

Serves 6-8

Cooking lamb in a nest of fresh fragrant hay is a very old cooking method. It is very similar to French style of En Papilotte. The hay acts as a great insulator, keeping the heat in and giving a moist textured roast with a gentle grassy taste.

Cooking in hay lends itself to a supper party because it makes a great centre piece and an interesting talking point. However, you will need to get hold of some good clean hay, so it's worth chatting-up a local farmer.

You will need to soak the hay before using; just swish it around in a bowl of cold water and then squeeze it out gently. Cooking in hay works especially well if you have an Aga. The method is suitable for most large roasting joints but here I have used a boned, rolled leg. Don't worry if you are fresh out of hay.

Just follow the method and either open roast your lamb or cover with foil. You might want to glug in half a bottle of red wine, so that the lamb braises and produces the base for delicious gravy.

Ingredients

1 boned, rolled leg of lamb, approximately 2kg

8 Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

Bunch of fresh rosemary, you will need to use the tips of the stalks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil

3-4 good handfuls of clean hay, soaked in cold water for 5-10 minutes and drained

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 220C /Gas mark 7.

With a sharp knife make several deep incisions through the skin of the lamb, approximately 1cm.

Push a slice of garlic, followed by a sprig of rosemary in each incision.

Put a layer of soaked and drained hay into a deep roasting tray and place the lamb on top.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.

Cover the lamb with the remaining hay and cover with a piece of foil.

Make sure there are no stray pieces of hay that might ignite.

Cook the lamb for approximately 2-2 hours depending on the size of the leg.

Check the lamb is cooked to your liking, if not, remove the foil and the covering of hay and continue to cook until done.

Check by inserting a skewer into the thickest part and the juices should run clear. But as always, everyone has their own preference for 'doneness'.

To serve, leave to rest for 15 minutes, remove the hay and carve.

Serve with dauphinoise potatoes and a medley of young spring vegetables.

Many thanks to the award winning Burdass Lamb who provided the fabulous lamb for this month's master class. Check out their on-line shop at www.burdasslamb.com. Zoe and Ian Burdass. Burdass Lamb, 3 Moorcroft Cottages, Harpham, Driffield, East Yorkshire YO25 4QY. 01262 490271 / 07908 365354



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