Monday, April 12, 2010

Taking it slow

I've mentioned on a previous blog the versatility of lamb and it's different cuts.  The meat I used for this ragu was lamb neck, lamb shoulder would work just as well.  Slow cooking is the buzz word at the moment using very flash stainless steel "slow cookers"  I remember when they were called crock pots admittedly that was back in the 70's and yes I had one, it was of course, orange.  Well there were really only two colours back then orange or green!  These cheaper cuts of meat are fantastic for slow cooking, at $4 per kilo for lamb necks, you can feed a family of four very well indeed.

Firstly I removed any excess fat, and to a heavy pan I splashed in some olive oil and browned the lamb necks well after coating them in some seasoned plain flour.  Remove from pan, set aside and deglaze, this can be done by splashing half a cup of red wine into the pan and scraping down the sides.  Next I added 2 large diced onions, 5 cloves chopped garlic, 3 carrots, finely chopped rosemary (chop it really fine that way you won't be pulling it out of your teeth) 2 bay leaves, salt & pepper.  Stir the ingredients well then add 1 tin (410gm) whole tomatoes, (the Coles ones are great at 75c tin) and water to cover, bring to a  slow boil, then turn down to a very low flame, with the lid on. 

The ragu will be very runny initially but remember this dish needs at least 3 hours of very slow cooking.  Keep an eye on it and top it up with water from time to time, the flavour of this cut of meat is intense so no need to be concerned about the flavour.  Slow cooking is a great time saver for working people and busy mums, a crock pot, sorry slow cooker would eliminate the need to check on the ragu so often as the temperature is lower, but will require longer cooking.
The meat is done when it is falling from the bone, I served mine with mashed potato and broccoli.  A tip for making mash is add 1 chopped clove of garlic in with the spuds and mash them altogether when  cooked.  Remember mash first then add hot milk with the seasoning to the potatoes.

Tips on making casseroles and slow cooking:  Remember always to brown your meat well as this is where the flavour comes from.   Deglaze your pans with chicken stock, red or white wine, even plain water depending on what you are cooking, remember the bottom of the pan is where the flavour starts.

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