Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Pull up to the Bumper - pulled lamb recipe


Was that it? Is summer over already? The weather certainly thinks so, and I am already digging out comforting recipes for autumn which is my absolute favourite time of year. 

Summer produce benefits from getting the ingredients from field to plate as quickly as possible  and from as little interference as possible . Autumn is a time for simmering, for blending more robust flavours together. If summer is basil and parsley, autumn is bay and rosemary. If summer is crunch, autumn is slurp. The recipes I want for autumn are ones that refuse to be rushed, that don’t need absolute precision weighing or cooking and that can happily blip away on or in the stove until I am ready for it.

With that in mind, there aren't many meals that make me happier than a super slow roast joint of autumn Welsh lamb which has a more intense flavour than spring lamb and revels in heavy spicing and gentle cooking.  A large pile of onions braised in the juices underneath serves instead of gravy, making this a versatile recipe for an alternative Sunday roast. Please feel free to go out for a long walk once it is safely in the oven .

What I serve this with depends on who I am feeding and what the weather is doing outside.  Sometimes I might make some flatbreads, houmous and a couscous salad spiced with harissa. For a casual lunch I often simply serve soft bread rolls and coleslaw. If it is serving as Sunday lunch on a cold, wet day then creamy root vegetable mash or crispy roasted potatoes and veg might be what is needed.

Pulled lamb (serves 6 -8)
  • Lamb shoulder - about 1.3kg
  • Onions - 4 medium
  • Cumin seeds -2 tablesepoons
  • Coriander seeds -1 tablespoon
  • Chilli flakes - 1 tablespoon (more or less, to taste)
  • Olive oil - 2 tablespoons
  • Sea salt - level teaspoon
  • Rosemary - chopped - tablespoon
  • Garlic - 3 fat cloves
  • Tomato puree - tablespoon
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 120°C
  2. Slice the onions and pile into a heavy casserole dish
  3. Pound the garlic with the sea salt, add the spices and rosemary and olive oil and combine
  4. Lamb with the spice rub
    Lamb with the spice rub
     Pat the lamb dry with kitchen roll, sit on top of the sliced onions then cover in the spice rub, massaging the meat well
  5. Pour in the wine and some water (there should be a good inch of liquid under the onions)
  6. Cover the casserole with a layer of foil, then the casserole lid (or 2 layers of foil)
  7. Place the dish into the oven and leave for at least 4 hours
  8. Remove from the oven and give a little bit of the lamb a pinch - the meat should be very, very tender and almost disintegrate underneath your fingers.
  9. Return to the oven, uncovered for half an hour to colour the lamb
  10. Remove the lamb to rest underneath some foil, covered with a tea towel
  11. The oniony, spicy mix in the bottom of the pan can be reduced on the hob to taste
  12. To 'carve', take 2 forks and shred the meat by inserting them into the joint an pulling them apart.
  13. Serve on a platter with a bowl of the onions on the side


    Pulled lamb with soft bread rolls

Monday, 3 September 2012

Deer Prudence - The Stagg Inn review

As is now traditional for my birthday, my boyfriend went in search of a convenient Michelin starred venue within reasonable distance for a slap up meal. This year he turned up The Stagg Inn, a Michelin Starred pub in Titley, Herefordshire, a mere 2 hour jaunt away (!). We booked in for dinner and to stay overnight in one of the rooms above the pub. All the Michelin starred places I had eaten at before this meal had been fairly formal 'fine dining' affairs, and given that I would rather eat my own arm than get dressed up, this sounded like my kind of place.
The Stagg Inn
The Stagg Inn

Once sat at the table we were brought some homemade salted crisps and a super sharp balsamic foam which was a fun start and certainly jolted my palette into life! A quick look at the menu and we had chosen.

To start, he had the soup, a delicately spiced curried lentil with onion bhaji. The soup was fine but the bhaji was crisp and light and I would have been very happy with a plate of those and some mango chutney.

I had the Cornish crab cake, tapenade, tomato (£8.50) which was very good. The crab cake was crispy without a hint of grease with the very strong crab nicely balanced by the tapenade and sweet tomato.


Cornish crab cake
Cornish crab cake
For main, I couldn't resist the classic Fillet of Herefordshire beef , bearnaise, watercress, mustard dressing, chips (£22.90). I ordered the fillet medium and it was a touch overdone for me, however the Bearnaise and chips were absolutely wonderful! Light, crisp and fluffy chips, the sauce rich and buttery it was hard not to lick the bowl clean.

Fillet of Herefordshire Beef
Fillet of Herefordshire Beef
Yummy chips!
Yummy chips!
He ordered the Sea bass fillet,braised fennel, coriander, dauphinoise potato (£16.90) which came with perfectly crisp skin, creamy potato and a subtle braised fennel that cut through the fish well.

Sea bass fillet with braised fennel
Sea bass fillet with braised fennel
 To finish he went for the Cinnamon doughnuts with apple puree and milkshake (all desserts at £6.50). The shake was probably the most successful component, the doughnuts were a little heavy although they did have a heady hit of cinnamon.
Cinnamon doughnuts
Cinnamon doughnuts
 I opted for the Strawberries, Black Pepper Meringue and Cream which was a sort of deconstructed Eton Mess. The meringues were melt-in-the-mouth sugariness but the black pepper was a little lost on me.
Strawberries and black pepper meringue
Strawberries and black pepper meringue

We enjoyed our visit to The Stagg Inn very much, the menu isn't particularly challenging, being full of classics as opposed to experimental gastronomy but this ties in well with the lack of pretension in the service. They seem to be very well rooted in the local community listing their suppliers on a board in the 'bar' and with a small handful of locals enjoying a pint of real ale. If I had one tiny gripe it is that I was hoping for a bit more 'pub'. In the bar area there was only one table that wasn't laid out for food and I was hoping for somewhere that we could sit and have a beer before (and after!) dinner. As it was, once we had finished eating, we shuffled off back to our room and had a whisky there instead. Such a minor point certainly didn't spoil our evening and if I was in the area again I would be very tempted to call in for a bar meal.

The Stagg Inn Titley, Kington, Herefordshire 01544 230221
http://www.thestagg.co.uk

 


Stagg Inn on Urbanspoon
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