Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Mediterranean lamb ragout
I named this dish the ‘Mediterranean lamb stew’ because of the typically southern ingredients such as tomatoes, paprika, lamb’s meat, garlic, etc. although it was developed and tested in Belgium – which is not a Mediterranean country – by myself. No Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italians, Slovenes, Croats, Bosnians, Montenegrins, Albanians, Greeks, Turks, Syrians, Lebanese, Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians, Algerians, Moroccans, Cypriotes or Maltese were harmed during the making and testing of this dish. Let me confirm for the record that I am absolutely against practices of smearing lamb ragout in the eyes or on the skin of Mediterranean people for any cosmetic or medical purposes.
It’s a relatively simple dish, but it does take a while to prepare, as with all stews, casseroles, ragouts, etc. The beauty of lamb ragout is that you get all the delicious taste of lamb, at a budget friendly price. Lamb ragout is about the cheapest kind of lamb’s meat you can find. It just takes a while to prepare and of course, if you don’t like food with bones in it, this is not the dish for you. I did throw in a couple of slices of the shoulder of the lamb, which have more meat and less bone.
A final remark: I made this dish for the two of us, but the portions are really enough to feed any passing armies. That is because with the same effort, you can make a whole heap of food you can then put in the freezer. And I think it’s too much effort to make this dish in small portions, besides you would have to leave out some of the veggies or start using halve paprika, etc.
- 2 medium sized onions cut into small pieces
- 1 yellow, 1 green and 1 red paprika, cut into small pieces
- 6 decently sized tomatoes (1.5 kilos), any variety you like, cut into pieces
- 500 gr. of lamb ragout
- 500 gr. of lamb shoulder (slices)
- 50 gr. of margarine (you can use olive oil too of course)
- Spicy paprika powder
- A seriously large cooking pot
First cut up the veggies, then put your LARGE cooking pot on a low fire and let the margarine melt without getting brown. Throw in the onions and jostle them around now and them. After a couple of minutes, add the paprika, stir around and put on the lid. Leave it for five minutes or so, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Take the pot from the fire and add the paprika powder and a bit of salt. Stir well, so the paprika powder mixes with the molten margarine (cooking oil). You’ll get a kind of paste with the pieces of onions and paprika.
Add a layer of tomatoes and put the pieces of lamb ragout on top. Don’t put in the lamb shoulder just yet. Put the rest of the tomatoes on top of the meat and place the pot back on the fire / laser-guided ceramic conductive cooking plates.
There! Most of the work is already done. Turn up the heat a bit in the beginning to get it going and stir now and then. When the tomatoes have fallen apart and turned into tomato sauce that’s bubbling nicely, turn down the heat again so that it keeps boiling softly without anything burning. Continue stirring once in a while, but not too much or the meat will start falling apart and you’ll end up with a kind of soup instead of ragout.
After an hour of total cooking time, taste the sauce and add Harissa, salt, pepper and any other spices you like. Then add the slices of lamb shoulder and stir again. Try to resist the delicious smells and let it boil softly for another half an hour. Serve with mashed potatoes (‘au garlique’), rice or bread (those flat Moroccan ones or Italian Ciabatta). Then seat yourself on two chairs, unbutton your trousers as a preventive safety measure and dig in, because this is absolutely delicious.