14 June 2011

Braised lamb shoulder with couscous

I saw these beautiful lamb shoulders at my Turkish butcher/grocery store. They sell pretty much everything there and they are my go to place when I need herbs, veggies or chicken wings. And once a while I buy a piece of lamb and design a whole recipe around it.

At first I didn’t know what to do with them. Just too bad I didn’t have a tajine, which would really help making a good dish. Since all you have to do is fill the tajine with meat and all kinds of veggies and put it on the stove. At a bit of water once a while and after some time you’ll have a great one pot meal. But even if I had a tajine I couldn’t use it…they are not made for induction stoves.

I didn’t have enough spices to make Mediterranean braised lamb but I did have a bottle of red wine. So braised lamb in red wine it is.
I haven’t had lamb for a while but I couldn’t resist these. 
I started with seasoning the lamb with some salt, pepper, garlic powder and cinnamon.
Then I put some olive oil and butter in a pot and seared the meat. After the meat browned evenly I got them out of the pot and set them aside. Then I put one chopped onion and 3 smashed garlic gloves in the pot and sautéed them. By this time the bottom gets pretty dark so I poured some sherry in the pot to get all the lovely flavor bits off the bottom.
I went to my lovely herb garden to get some fresh bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. That, some peppercorns and one cinnamon stick went into the pot. Then I added 2 diced tomatoes and two spoonfuls of picked onions. The sourness of the onions will help to tender the meat.

I thought some lemon peal would give it some nice citrus flavor so I added the peal of half a lemon.
Now it was time for the red wine. As you all know I don’t drink, or hardly drink any alcohol. But that doesn’t mean I can’t cook with it. At first I added about ¾ of the bottle. Then I thought…why waste that bit of wine, so I ended up using the whole bottle. After it boiled for a couple of minutes I had a taste and added sugar and salt. After the broth was to my liking I added the meat. I continue to have it on a boil so I could scoop up the foam. And there was quite a bit of foam. When there was no more foam I put a lit on the pot and let it simmer for 2 hours on low heat.

I made this dish in the afternoon at 12 so after it simmered till about 2 I got it off the stove and let it rest till dinner time. About 1 hour before dinner I put the pot back on the stove and added some big junks of carrot just to give it some more flavor and color.

This extra hour would give me enough time to make a simple couscous salad.
Couscous is one of the easiest things to make and it barely takes time. I boiled some water with a chicken flavored bouillon cub. After the water boils I tasted it and added some more salt and pepper. Then 2 cups of couscous went it. It instantly soaked up the broth and got totally stuck in the pan. Nevertheless I put the lit on the pot and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
I poured the couscous out in a big bowl and used a fork to fluff it up and to separate the couscous. I also used quite a bit of olive oil.

To this couscous I added some finely diced purple onion and some spring onions.

Then I diced one small cucumber and one red bell pepper. And for some crunch some toasted pine nuts. By the way I store my pine nuts in the freezer and toast whatever I need. I found out that freezing it keeps it good for quite some time.

Last but not least I sliced some sprigs of flat leave parsley and a handful of mint. Everything went in the big bowl and got mixed together. A quick taste told me that I need to add some more salt and of course some fresh ground pepper. 
After I finished my couscous salad I checked my meat. It was so soft and tender and so ready. To finish it off I sprinkle some chopped parsley on top.
That day I served the couscous with the lam shoulder one big plate.
We only needed a fork to eat the meat. It was so tender it fell off the bone. The lamb combined really well with the couscous. I made so much we had enough leftovers for next day.

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