Oh, how I love cooking at this time of year when the sun has finally decided to show its face, my garden is lush with roses, herbs and that evocative summer evening scent of mown grass and cooling air after a warm day! And when I looked in my fridge on a Friday early evening there is the making of a perfect summer supper all to hand…
Last week I did a shoot with co-editor and photographer, Marie Louise, for the new issue of Saffron magazine, due out in the next couple of weeks, here in my kitchen. I can’t tell you what fun we are having doing this magazine together – it’s such a personal project for us to share our mutual interest in everything to do with food, and how it is produced and cooked. Anyway I’d done a shop for ingredients for a summer barbecue party feature and some cover options – and when you shop for a shoot it’s always a good idea to buy a few extra bits and pieces just in case.
So when I looked on Friday the leftover ingredients and extra bits comprised of two Welsh lamb shanks that had been about to exceed their sell-by date at Waitrose so I bought them for half price, a few carrots and a slightly past its best courgette or two from my wonderful local organic farm shop, Jersey Royals, and a handful of French apricots.
Lamb shanks tend to feel wintery but this is really the time of year to be eating British lamb, and when cooked slowly with white wine, grated lemon and some anchovy and chopped fresh rosemary, they transformed into something that had just the right balance of richness and clean flavour to make a summery dish. The Jerseys were steamed with mint, and I coarsely grated my courgettes before frying them in a little olive oil then adding chopped garlic and a pinch or two of chilli flakes for the last 30 seconds.
Serves 2/Prep 10 minutes/Cook 2 1/2 hours/ Skill: Easy
2 tbsp olive oil
2 lamb shanks
1 onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 tbsp sun dried tomato paste
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
250ml white wine
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Preheat the oven to 160C Gas Mark 2. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and brown the lamb on all sides.Remove from the pan. Add the onion and carrot and cook until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and anchovy and cook for a minute or two.
2 Return the lamb to the pan and add the anchovy, tomato paste, rosemary, wine, lemon juice and rind and seasoning. Bring to simmering point and cover the pan. Cook in the oven for 2 1/2 hours until the lamb is meltingly tender. Serve with new potatoes and grated courgettes.
My apricots were halved into a gratin dish and interleaved with fresh bay leaves, then dusted with brown sugar and dotted with butter. Baked in a hot oven for 15 minutes, they were fragrant with bay and, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, made the perfect pud to follow the richer lamb dish.