If you really hate mutton, this might not be a dish for you. If you’re just “not very found of mutton”, I’m sure you’ll like this anyway. It’s full of spices, herbs, all packed with flavours. It’s sweet and rich. It’s just freakin’ marvellous, I tell you!
The whole idea started with me thinking of Moroccan cuisine. They use spices extensively in their food, and have done so for thousands of years e.g cinnamon, cumin, pepper, coriander, fennel, cloves, nutmeg. And then I realised, that many of these flavours are represented in the world’s beloved drink Coca-Cola. Now, hear me out here. The recipe for Coke is a well guarded secret, but there is information about the original recipe. Although it might be wrong, or not complete, some of the said ingredients clearly come through when you try the beverage e.g orange, cinnamon, lemon, coriander, nutmeg, neroli. See what I’m getting at here? Coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, there are notes in Coca-Cola that would work very well with a slow-cooked lamb stew. So that’s what we have, a wonderful lamb stew inspired by Moroccan flavours.
Oh, and don’t forget the cauliflower cakes. They have a wonderful soft but firm texture, and a nice touch of cumin.
It yields about 4 portions for hungry people. I am usually very specific when it comes to quantity and proportions of ingredients, but for this rustic stew, you don’t have to be too careful. It will turn out just fine with all the heavy flavours in there.
This is what you need for the stew which then becomes the sauce…
- 4 lamb legs
- A bottle of dry red wine (about 750 ml)
- 1,5 l of Coca-Cola (do not use Diet Coke or any other synthetically sweetened variety!)
- 2 large carrots
- 2 large onions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/2 l of beef stock (I made my own, which is unsalted, and added a little salt to the stew myself. If you use a store bought beef stock, try to find one without salt in it. They are usually too salty)
- two spoonfuls of butter (that’s butter, I really mean it, not margarine or any other terrible substitute!)
- Some corn starch
This is how you make the stew and sauce…
- Heat the oven to 150 degrees C
- Chop the carrots and onions into large pieces, and crush the garlic cloves with the side of your knife
- Put the vegetables into a large pot together with all the wine, Coca-Cola, beef stock, and fresh herbs
- Cover the pot and place it on the floor of the oven, close the oven and turn down the temperature to 100 degrees C
- Cook for 7 hours
- Take it out, and take out the vegetables and meat. Be careful, the meat literally falls of the bone. You can exchange the vegetables for new ones and let them boil in the sauce for 15 minutes, if you want them to look more colourful, but I don’t. I like the soft and flavoursome slow-cooked vegetables. So I put the meat on a tray together with the vegetables, and place it in the oven on low heat just to keep it warm until it’s time to serve. About 10 minutes before serving, raise the temperature to high and place the meat close to the roof of the oven. Be careful not to burn it, you just want to give the meat a nice grilled finish. But first…
- … Strain the liquid, and throw away the herbs and other pieces of stuff.
- Boil the liquid to reduce it to about 30% of it’s original volume. It takes a while.
- Add the butter and stir until melted.
- Depending on how salty your broth was, or if there was salt in your butter, this is the time to try the sauce. If it needs more salt, add more salt.
- Mix the corn starch with some cold water, and pour it into the sauce while stirring, to thicken it.
This is what you need for the cauliflower cakes…
- Half a medium large cauliflower (that’s about 300 grams)
- 1 egg
- a pinch of salt
- two pinches of ground cumin (grind it yourself!)
- 100 grams of real Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (you can use another hard cheese, but I really like the nuttiness of Parmigiano)
- Some olive oil to fry them in
This is how you make the cauliflower cakes…
- Finely chop the cauliflower. I recommend using a chopper, although with enough patience, you can use a knife.
- Boil it in salted water for about 3 minutes
- Strain the cauliflower through a clean cloth, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
- Combine the “cauliflower dough” with the egg, grated cheese, and ground cumin.
- Make balls out of it, and put them in a heated pan with some olive oil in it. Flatten the balls into round cakes.
- You’ll need some fresh parsley
- Put some sauce on a plate, some vegetables and a leg of lamb.
- Chop a generous amount of fresh parsley, and sprinkle it on top.
- Serve with the cauliflower cakes.