Monday, 21 January 2013

Lemon and dill lamb

I love the aniseed tones of dill but it's a herb usually only associated with fish. It does have an affinity with other things - it's used in cures for pickled gherkins for example and also turns up a lot in dishes from Poland, Russia and other east European countries. It also partners really well with lamb and goat meat - not the obvious choice but trust me, it works.

This is a really tasty and easy casserole to sling together - it takes only 5 minutes to prep - but it needs about an hour on the hob. When I buy dill for fish I always seem to have masses left over and that's when I might make this.

What you need: 
150g cubed lamb
1 large shallot, finely diced (or a small onion)
1 large potato, cut into bite-size chunks
250ml vegetable stock
Dill, chopped, about 2 handfuls
1 bay leaf
1 lemon, juiced

What to do: 
Fry the onions in a sauteuse in a little vegetable oil until they soften and turn translucent. While the are cooking, dust the lamb cubes in a little plain flour then add them to the onions. Brown the meat, stirring all the time to stop the flour sticking and burning. Pour over the stock and lemon juice, add the dill and bay leaf and some black pepper. Simmer gently for about half an hour. Add the potatoes and simmer for another half hour or so until they are tender. Add salt to taste then dish up.

Cook's tips: 
The acid in the lemon juice helps to really tenderise the lamb, although tough cuts such as neck will need more than an hour. I usually go for the best lamb available. It should be melt-in-the-mouth tender when ready.

The lemon also produces quite a tart gravy. I like to hold back a little of the dill and stir it into some plain yoghurt for a creamy relish on the side that takes the edge off any sourness.