Is there any finer meat than lamb? If cooked properly, no other meat can match its exquisite taste and texture. Of course, beef has its virtues, but it lacks that little sparkle of flavour that forces me to freely admit that I am a little in love with lamb. Hold the jokes. There is but one problem with the meat of those little sheep; it’s so damn expensive. For instance, cubed leg of lamb comes in at a whopping £13/kg. As such, the only financially viable option is to opt for the far cheaper fillets of lambs neck – roughly £5/kg. Happily, since the neck contains both bone and cartilage it is extremely tasty and succulent. It is almost impossible to over-rate the impact of bone marrow on a dish such as this.
It is my firm belief that one-pot Italian food is amongst the best in the world; it is right up there with the British and the French. This dish, traditionally made in Tuscany where the climate allows for sheep husbandry, is extremely rich and has an incredible depth of flavour. The olives used when making this dish should be the bitterest available, as they will compliment both the lamb and the taste of the cooked wine. Traditionally, this lamb is supposed to be served with polenta. However, I’m not a huge fan of polenta as of yet and I believe that rice or perhaps even orzo would work just as well.
In other news, Katherine is coming to visit tomorrow and I’m sure we shall be creating all manner of delights while she is here. However, this means that the blogging may be a little slow; life comes first, I suppose! Be sure to check back tomorrow morning for my latest instalment in the ‘Keeping Alive a Tradition’ series.
Agnello con Olive Nere
• 600g lamb neck fillet
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp of tomato puree
• 150ml dry white wine
• 15-20 black olives, not pitted
• 500ml water
• Salt and pepper
• Olive oil
1. Begin by sweating the onions in a good slosh of olive oil until they are translucent. Add the garlic and the rosemary and cook for a further few minutes. Brown off the meat in the pot, before adding the tomato puree, white wine, olives, water and seasoning.
2. Reduce the heat a little and leave to simmer for around two hours. By this point the lamb should simply fall away from the bone. Pick all of the lamb off the bones and return to the pot to simmer for a further half an hour, leave the lid off. Once the sauce has reduced by a little over half it is ready to be served with polenta, rice or orzo.
Cost: As one can imagine, this isn’t going to be the cheapest meal I’ve ever made – but it is economical. As such, the entire dish should cost roughly £5.20 to make, if not a little less. Of course, if one wishes to use a more expensive cut of lamb, one may. However, I don’t expect that the results would be anywhere near as flavourful.