Time for the edible version of a one size fits all sort of deal… One base idea fits all tastes and seasons, to be precise~! Dark gamey meat, stone fruit and my favorite type of rice base: a spiced, slightly middle eastern number my grandma used to make when I was a kid!
This simple classic Tyrian recipe brushed the dust off of that particular memory a few years back…
…and I’ve been playing around with it beyond the usual “Garlic? Rosemary? Lamb!” thought-process every once in a while. See, during my childhood, this one used to be one of those “classic” dishes, the lamb, (originally) plums and spiced rice. “Could you make The Rice for lunch?” and this one was waiting for me on my grandma’s kitchen table after school. My Tyria-inspired re-discovery of the dish came to pass at a rather unfortunate moment in time – that is, just before our fruit seasons were scrambled up in recent years thanks to the insane temperatures, draughts and way-too-long summers. I got to make it in its original form maybe 2-3 times and then the collateral weird we got hit with as an effect of the climate changes all around the globe made getting local/free-range lamb and fresh/regional plums at the same time impossible. However, the shift in seasons was also responsible for a general burst in our wild game/deer populations which, due to the ah… necessary population control measures, led to really good prices and availability in that department. So, all of a sudden, the whole Lamb & Plum concept came around the corner disguised as Venison & Plum, Duck & Apricot, Pheasant & Nectarine, Wild Boar & Greengage… and all variations in between. So: The Show, aka method, sauce and side: rock solid, easy-breezy and delish~ Headliners: entirely your pick as long as it’s a piece of meat with an oomph to hold its own against whichever stone fruit you’ve picked. For the sake of an easy-to-read and -write recipe, I’ll stick to the mother of this litter of possible variations (which is still a favorite whenever both components appear on the farmer’s market at the same time, I might add): Garlic & Rosemary Roasted Lamb and Apricots for 4 servings:
The Minty Spiced Rice
200g Wild-/Brown-/Rice Blend of your choice
1 “Spicy Teabag” or muslin satchel filled with:
1 Stick of Cinnamon
3 Cardamom Pods
10 Black Peppercorns
1 Green Chilli, pricked with a fork or sharp knife a couple of times
1 Star Anise
3 Allspice Berries
Unless you’re going with a teanet or the like, double check on the knots you’ve closed the deal with. And then again.
1 Shallot, finely diced
3 Tbsp of Prunes or Apricots, finely chopped – just match the fresh fruit you’re using for the sauce with their dried version for the rice~
1 Tbsp Barberries or unsweetened dried Cranberries
2 Tbsp Raisins – I always use a tri-color mix
Orange, Zest and 3 Tbsp of the Juice
1 Splash of Lemon Juice
1 heaped Tsp Ras el Hanout
1 Tsp Chilli Flakes or Pul Biber
½-1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 generous Pinch each of Sumach, Salt, Pepper
3 Sprigs of Mint, thinly sliced (before serving)
4 Tbsp of Pine Nuts, lightly toasted (before serving)
1) Cook the rice according to the instructions on its package with the addition of the spice bag in the cooking water.
2) As soon the rice is done, transfer it to a mixing bowl and add everything listed above – just hold on to the pine nuts and mint ribbons until you’re just about ready to plate up, that way both the zing of the mint and the crunch of the nuts will be more prominent even covered with sauce.
3) Be quick about the transfer and quickly fold the mixture in on itself to allow the essential oils of the zest and newly added spices to work their way all throughout the dish.
4) The dried fruit will soak up the excess moisture, so don’t worry about a potentially soggy rice base~
The Garlic & Rosemary Roasted Lamb, Phase#1: The Marinade
4 Saddles of Lamb, ~180g each
3-4 Cloves of Garlic, finely sliced
3-4 Sprigs of Rosemary
3-4 Sprigs of Thyme
1 Tbsp Dark Forest Honey
1 heaped Tsp of freshly ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Pinch of Hot Chilli Flakes
1 Pinch of Cumin
Enough olive oil to cover everything once neatly tucked into an airtight container.
1) Place the honey, pepper, cinnamon, chillies, cumin and about 5 tbsp of olive oil in an airtight container and whisk the lot until the honey has dissolved.
2) Add the lamb, turn it over a couple of times and gently “massage” it with the honey-oil rub in your container.
3) Once all pieces have had a little oil treatment, add the herbs and garlic and turn the individual pieces over until all sides of all pieces have a couple of garlic slices sticking to them and a herb tucked beneath/on top/to the side.
4) Top off the lot with more oil until everything is just covered.
5) Seal the lid and allow the meat to marinade at least 8 hours or over night. The more, the better in this case.
The Garlic & Rosemary Roasted Lamb, Phase#2: Pan-Time
2 Tbsp of the Marinade
1 Tbsp Brown Butter
1 Tsp Honey
1 Clove of Garlic, crushed
1 fresh Bay Leaf, crumpled
A generous Pinch each of Sea Salt and Black Pepper
The Herb Sprigs and garlic slices you’ve already used for the marinade
1) Set a heavy-based pan with a fitting lid onto high heat and evenly sprinkle the bottom with salt.
2) Pop on the lid and allow the pan to heat up.
3) Meanwhile, retrieve your lamb from the box and gently shake the pieces to remove any excess marinade – no need to dry them off completely, you just don’t want them to swim in oil at this point.
4) Lightly season the meat with salt all around.
5) Once the pan is hot, place the lamb inside and sear it in the sizzling heat – constantly turning them over to cover all sides – until the pieces are evenly browned. 2-3 mins
6) As soon as the coloring-process of the meat is showing signs of success, turn the heat to medium-low, add the brown butter and honey along with 2 tbsp of the marinade, the herbs and the garlic.
7) Pop on the lid and allow the meat to add the finishing touch on its own.
8) Once the usual pressure-/thermometer test tells you the core temperature is almost where you’d prefer it to be, take out the pieces and place them on a warmed plate beneath a sheet of tinfoil.
9) Leave the lamb to rest for 5-7 mins and finish off the sauce in the meantime~
The Plums and the Sauce
8-10 Fresh Apricots or Plums
4-5 Dried Apricots or Prunes, finely chopped
2 Sprigs of Thyme, leaves picked
100ml Dry Red Wine
100ml Red Port
200ml Lamb Stock
2 Tbsp Aged Balsamic Vinegar
1 Splash of Orange Juice
1) Turn the heat up to medium-high and deglaze the lamb-pan with everything – minus the fresh fruit – listed above.
2) Have a closer look at the fruit in question.If they are perfectly ripe, consider just marking them up in a griddle or keeping them out of the pan altogether. If they’re on the far-from-it side of things, add them right away. And in case they’re something in between, add them once the liquids have halved their volume.
3) Once that point is reached, remove the herb sprigs, bay leaf and bashed garlic (I always keep the slices in because… yum. Feel free to pick them out too if they haven’t dissolved into the sauce already, though).
4) Allow the sauce to simmer away until the plums are tender and the lamb has finished R&R’ing.
5) Have a taste and adjust the seasoning.
Assembling the Dish
1) Fold the mint and the pine nuts into the rice blend until everything is well combined.
2) Divvy the mixture up between 4 warmed (deep) dishes or bowls.
3) Turn the meat over in the sauce and place it on top of your rice beds.
4) Dot the servings with the fruit and give everything a generous drizzle with your sauce spoon.
5) Knife. Fork. Go.
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