January 19th 2011
I had a roast shoulder of lamb for dinner on Sunday – it’s cheap at present, if you get it from a good butcher (don’t believe the prices in the supermarkets), mine was £2.50 per lb and properly hung. A leg or shoulder of lamb should provide enough meat for about 5 carnivores like me – perhaps more for those less greedy. Aside from the fact that a big piece of meat roasts better, it also provides leftovers which can be used to make an entirely different meal. Shepherd’s pie is an obvious choice for lamb, but fancying something different, I opted for baked beans.
Home made baked bean recipe:
Make some stock with the bone from your lamb – I put mine into a pressure cooker with 1 pint of water, an onion, 6 pieces of garlic, 2 sticks of celery, 2 carrots, salt, pepper and some fresh herbs.
half a pint of lamb stock
1 large onion (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
4 rashers of streaky bacon (chopped)
4 large tomatoes or 1 tin (chopped)
2lb leftover lamb (diced)
500g navy beans (dried or tinned)
1 large squirt of tomato puree
1 small squirt of anchovy paste
crushed chilli to taste
ground, sea salt, black pepper, sage, rosemary and thyme (using a mortar and pestle)
a few glugs of olive oil
2 bay leaves
a glass of red wine
a slug of red wine vinegar
Navy beans are the variety of bean used in tinned baked beans, but you could use another type. In Britain, the best selling beans are Heinz, but if you travel to America, you’ll find that they are not so common and lots of places sell home made baked beans, with pork and other ingredients. I did actually find it hard to buy Heinz baked beans in Georgia (where I lived for a couple of years), until I found a shop which sold them imported from Canada!
I like using dried pulses, I find that they have a better texture than tinned beans, which can be very soft, having been stored in water for a long time. I use a pressure cooker for cooking pulses and therefore they only require an hour of soaking in boiling water and then about 15 or 20 minutes of pressure cooking time.
Using a large cast iron casserole (with lid), fry your onions first, in olive oil and add the chilli (use the amount of chilli to suite your taste or not if you prefer). Add more chilli later if it’s not hot enough for you. Next, put in the bacon and as that cooks, the garlic, celery and carrots. Once the vegetables have cooked through a little, add the diced lamb and when it’s been stirred, the tomatoes, the puree, anchovy paste, ground herbs, bay leaves, wine, vinegar and lamb stock. The beans come last, either cooked from dry or from a tin.
Bring everything to a simmer and then put the lid on and place the casserole into a preheated oven at 160º C for 2 hours. I suggest you taste the beans after an hour and adjust the flavour with salt, chilli etc. if necessary. If the sauce isn’t thick enough, sprinkle on a tablespoon of flour and stir it in. Finally, when the 2 hours are up, you might want to add a little more wine and for extra richness, perhaps some balsamic vinegar. Serve with fresh sour dough bread and butter.