Being able to identify and prepare the cheaper cuts of meat is one of the many paths to becoming truly frugal. As my tips section explains, meat is the main culprit behind the lack of frugality these days. Indeed, if you’re going to be excessively carnivorous, you may as well do it economically. Not only this, but the cheaper cuts are often the most flavoursome; lamb bread and pork hand are evidence of this. The reason for their relative lack of expense is the fact that they can often take a while to prepare or cook. Lamb breast is also considered to be too fatty by most people. However, one must remember that the cooking process has the added effect of melting most of the fat present in meat; this makes its use entirely optional.
As you probably know, lamb is one of those meats that work particularly well in combination with sweeter ingredients such as apricots and mint. Both the bulgur wheat salad and the rolled lamb breast take subtle inspiration from Moroccan cuisine, which is well known for its use of fruit in its food. As expected, the lamb in combination with the sweet apricots worked fantastically; dried fruit tends to take on flavour really well, since they have the ability to absorb excess liquid. Of course, the juice of slow cooked lamb is best not squandered and it seemed such a shame not to dress the dish with a vinaigrette in keeping with the flavour of the lamb. After 2-3 hours of cooking, the garlic which accompanies the meat into the oven will be perfectly roasted, thus it will have developed a delicious nutty flavour that is known to go very well with lamb. The garlic, when mixed with the broken down onion, meat juices, butter and a squeeze of lemon juice serves to create a sauce which expertly accompanies the main event.
Finally, it should be mentioned that lamb is now coming into season; the prices will be at their lowest. As such, now is the time to experience the finest Welsh lamb. Remember, there’s no need to indulge in the over rated cuts such as leg. Instead, why not go out and buy a chunky lamb breast or even neck of lamb which is simply perfect for stewing.
Apricot Stuffed Lamb with Bulgur Wheat Salad
• 350-400g lamb breast, trimmed by butcher if possible
• 2 small onions, 1 finely chopped
• A handful of dried apricots, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
• Some cooking string
• 3-4 cloves of garlic
• A small knob of butter
• 150ml water
• A dash of olive oil
• 100-120g bulgur wheat
• A generous handful of raisins
• A squeeze of lemon juice
• 2 tbsp fresh parsley
• Salt and Pepper
1. First you’ll want to trim any excess fat off your lamb, though this shouldn’t be necessary. Season the meat on the inside and set aside. Begin to cook of the onions, apricots and rosemary in a little olive oil. After 5 minutes transfer them to the meat, spread evenly and roll up the meat tightly, fasten tightly with plenty of string. I wasn’t very good at this, sorry if it looks like a bit of a mess.
2. Preheat the oven to 160C. Heat a little oil in a large casserole dish, brown the lamb all over, throw in 3-4 cloves of garlic and place the lamb on top of the two halves of a slice onion – doing this will stop it sticking. Pour in the water and the butter and pop in the oven to cook for at least 2 hours. Once cooked you’ll need to let it rest under foil for at least 20 minutes.
3. Once the lamb is resting prepare your bulgur wheat according to packet instructions. Leave the juice of the meat in the pan and heat, this will cause the onion and garlic to break down further; it may be necessary to push the garlic out of its ‘skin’. Once the bulgur wheat is cooked add a handful of raisins, 2 tbsp of parsley and seasoning to it. Place a little of the bulgur wheat salad onto the plate, top with two slices of the lamb (1-2cm in thickness). Add some lemon juice to the meat juices and drizzle over the dish.
Cost: This does sound like the sort of dish that might cost rather a lot of money. However, the key to this being frugal lies, as you may have guessed, in the cheapness of the lamb. Indeed, using such a cut means that the price of this delicious dish is reduced to a mere £2. Even I thought it had set me back a little more than that!