Whenever I think of lamb I think of my Mother in Law, Tuulikki. Which may sound strange if you have read of my in laws as she is a staunch vegetarian-and-then-some (not quite a vegan but won't eat eggs kind of person). A few years ago, there was an ad on television that was a send up of a perfume ad where a beautiful couple stared moodily off into the distance while standing in a field to opera music. They pronounced Lamb as "Lomb." To this day, she still believes that they have brought out a perfume that smells like cooked lamb cutlets despite our protestations that it was actually a parody.
Despite our differences in ways of eating, and her insistence that we are probably spritzing ourselves with a juicy meat aroma, she gave me a pretty great present this year for my birthday. It was an apron with the Moomins on it all the way from her travels in Finland. I was also admiring a plate that she had made and she offered it to me on the spot. Which brings me to Celia's fun series called "In my Kitchen" when I show you some of the newest additions to my kitchen.
Six eggs from Celia's hens - a precious gift because I know that they're not laying as much as they used to :)
Some salted caramel sticks from France and an alfajor biscuit from Buenos Aires
A drawing from my friend's girls Audrey and Evie. Do you see the six legged spider? I think Audrey might be the next David Thorne. Let's hope so ;)
I also loved that she wished me a "Happy Gay Birth" :)
I spoke of my repository of google eyes, how do you like my repository of edible fondant buttons? These will be used in an upcoming story ;)
I was also sent some delicious looking books to read!
Oh that reminds me, this is a dish from the lovely Sandra from 120DollarsFoodChallenge. She has a book out called "The $120 Food Challenge" and in it, she teaches people how to feed a family for $120 a week. I wanted one last hurrah for this hopefully exiting winter weather and to do this I made use of my slow cooker. I thought that I had some potatoes but it turned out that Mr NQN had eaten them all as a snack one day (raw, I know, odd).
So scrambling to find something suitable, I decided to make some creamy, cheese polenta and use the wedge of blue cheese I had left over. The lamb and polenta together were wonderful and the polenta provided a good mechanism to soak up the sauce from the lamb. Sandra cooks hers twice, and by all means do if you want to. If you have people over you could always cook this once the day before and then reheat it for 2.5 hours on low the next day.
So tell me Dear Reader, are you a slow cooker or pressure cooker type of person? And have you got any interesting additions to your kitchen? :)
Slow Cooked Lamb & Creamy, Cheesy Polenta
1 lamb shoulder (make sure that it fits in your slow cooker), 1.25-1.5 kilos.
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
salt and pepper
4 eschallots, finely diced
250ml chicken stock
1.5 cups dry white wine
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 sprigs rosemary
6 sage leaves
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 cups water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream (use all milk if you prefer)
1 cup polenta
50-100g blue cheese (depending on taste and how strong it is, you can also use your favourite non blue cheese)
salt and pepper for seasoning
Note: you can buy the lamb shoulder bone in or bone out, I prefer bone in as there is more flavour with the bones, especially if you are cooking it in a slow cooker, but it's personal preference.
Step 1 - Allow lamb to come to room temperature. If cooking in a casserole pot, preheat oven to 160C/320F or get your slow cooker ready. Rub lamb all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat frypan to medium to high heat. Place incisions in the skin of the lamb and stick the garlic in them pushing them under the skin. Brown the lamb on all sides with the garlic. Place the lamb shoulder in the slow cooker.
Step 2 - Add the eschallots to the frypan and saute until starting to becoming fragrant. Add the white wine, red wine vinegar and chicken stock and allow to bubble away for a few minutes. Add the brown sugar, rosemary, sage, cinnamon and fennel seeds and cook for a minute. Then pour over the lamb and cook for six to seven hours on high. Season for salt and pepper.
Step 3 - To make the polenta, put the water and milk and/or cream on the boil in a medium sized saucepan. Once boiling, take a whisk and *slowly, *add the polenta in a thin stream whisking the entire time to get any lumps out. If you add it all at once, it will become lumpy and lumps in polenta are not like lovely lady lumps. Put on low heat and stir and once it comes together and thickens, about 10-15 minutes, make sure that the polenta granules are still not hard. During this time, chop up the cheese and melt it in the polenta and just stir it, the heat will melt the cheese and stirring will distribute it (I didn't need to tell you the last part did I). Keep cooking until they become soft. Season with salt and pepper.
Tip: reserve about 300g of the lamb meat if you aren't feeding that many people as it is wonderful in pies. I'll give you a recipe for some divine lamb and mint sauce pies on Friday! Trust me, you'll be glad you saved some ;)