Friday, 21 February 2014

Greek lamb and aubergine stew

Following on from the 'Indian' meal the other week, here is another in the delicious-but-not-really-authentic category: Greek lamb and aubergine stew.

Greek lamb and aubergine stew

Recipe adapted from Debbie Major. Serves 4.

- 600g lamb. (Spend at least ten minutes dithering in the supermarket, having no idea what to choose from all these foreign bits. Debbie said leg, but that does not appear to be a cut the Belgians go in for. End up choosing whatever doesn't have enormous bones in (so that the weight is right) but not the hideously expensive lamb fillet.)
- 1 large onion or 4ish shallots
- 4 garlic cloves (well, the equivalent in squishy-crushed-garlic-in-a-tube, which I love)
- 1 medium aubergine (Debbie says 200g but I think mine was about 300g)
- quite a bit of olive oil
- SPICE: Debbie used between 1/2 and 1 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and paprika. I actually used a mixture of the 'Athenian' and 'Hungarian' mixes you can see at the top of the post (Christmas presents from my awesome friend H) which include all these and more, and it was most effective, but that is not very helpful to anyone except me and her.
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 400g tinned tomatoes
- 200ml red wine
- HERBS: 3 bay leaves and a generous sprinkle of thyme

Plus orzo pasta, green beans or somesuch, and salad. And the rest of that bottle of red you opened.

1. Cut the lamb into chunks, cut the aubergine into chunks, roughly chop the onion/shallots.
2a. Brown the lamb, either in a casserole dish (which you can make the whole dish in) or in a frying pan (with a large pot with a lid on hand for the final stew cooking stage). Depending on the fat content, you may or may not need to add oil. When it is all cooked, remove it to a plate and cook the onions/shallots on a low heat.
2b. At the same time, fry off the aubergine in another pan. This is not in Debbie's recipe, but I was worried that the aubergine would be too mushy cooked straight into the tomato sauce, and I liked the fact that the fried pieces were soft but with some integrity.
3. When the onions are soft and golden, return the lamb to the pan and add all the spices, stirring to coat the meat and cook them off a bit.
4. Add the red wine vinegar to the pan, and try not to cough as it reduces. When this has mostly evaporated, add the tomato paste, tomatoes, wine (swill out the tomato can with the wine to get all the juice out), and herbs. NB if you are not using a casserole, this is the time to transfer from the frying pan to the saucepan/pot. Cover, and simmer on a low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
5. Add in the aubergines, and cook, uncovered, for another half an hour.

This is also one of those stews which is good reheated the next day. I have made this twice in the last fortnight, once for the Dutchman and I, and once for friends, who came bearing two bottles of wine and a delicious raspberry tart, so they can definitely come over again! It is very good with orzo, the Greek rice-shaped-pasta, as the little pieces get all mixed up in the thick sauce. Plus green veg, such as green beans tossed in olive oil and lemon juice, griddled courgettes, and bog standard frozen peas.

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