February 29th, 2012
I had some leftover roast lamb from Sunday and fancied something a bit more exotic than the usual shepherd’s pie. I wanted something hot and spicy with a distinct Moorish, Spanish flavour. What I’m getting at by Moorish, is Spanish food influenced by the Moors who occupied Spain for 700 years, from 711 to 1492. They brought with them; broad beans, chickpeas, coriander, cumin, lentils and saffron – a culinary contribution that stayed with the Iberian Peninsular after the Christian reconquest. You’ll find some very good examples of this type of cuisine if you visit the restaurant Moro in London.
Moorish Lamb and Chickpea recipe (feeds 5 or 6 people):
2 lb leftover roast lamb (chopped)
4 slices of streaky bacon (chopped)
half a hot chorizo ring (chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 leek (chopped)
2 large carrots (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
5 or 6 medium tomatoes (peeled and chopped) or a tin of plum peeled tomatoes
1 lb chickpeas (soaked and cooked weight) or 2 tins
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1 heaped dessertspoon of plain flour
2 teaspoons of coriander seeds (ground)
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds (ground)
1 heaped teaspoon of hot smoked Pimentón de la Vera
a pinch of saffron
a bouquet garni
a large pinch of crushed chilli
2 dessertspoons of tomato purée
1 small squirt of anchovy paste
1 pint of home made lamb stock
1 large glass of red wine
a couple of splashes of sherry vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
seasoning to taste
I soaked half a pound of chickpeas for an hour in boiling water and then cooked them in a pressure cooker for 35 minutes. When cooked the chickpeas weighed about a pound.
If you want to make your own stock, add the bones from a leg or shoulder of lamb to my stock recipe – it can be done quite quickly in a pressure cooker. I suggest adding any chewy bits of skin and gristle too. At a pinch, stock cubes would do.
This reactivates the seeds and brings out all of their flavours. After warming, grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle.
Heat some olive oil in a large cast iron casserole and start frying the onion with a large pinch of crushed chilli. When the onions have gone translucent stir in the bacon and chorizo. I included the soft white fat that came from the lamb too – it melted in the hot olive oil and imparted a lot of lamb flavour.
When the bacon and chorizo have cooked a little, sprinkle on the ground coriander and cumin,
followed by the carrots, celery, garlic and leek.
Stir in the vegetables and give them a minute or two before adding the chopped lamb.
Since the lamb is cooked it can be followed quite quickly by the tomatoes and the chickpeas.
Pour in the stock, red wine and a little sherry vinegar. Stir in the tomato purée and anchovy paste too.
When the liquid bubbles a little, sprinkle on the Pimentón de la Vera – it will turn the dish quite red as well as making it a hot and smokey. Now is a good time to taste the casserole – I use anchovy paste instead of salt, but I did add some cracked black pepper. More chilli, tomato paste, vinegar and wine could be added if needed, at this stage.
If the dish tastes good, stir in the flour, push the bouquet garni deep into the liquid, put the lid on and place it into a preheated oven at 100º C for 2 hours or so.
Taste the lamb halfway through and stir in the saffron strands – soak them for a few minutes in hot water first, it brings out their essence. Saffron is the stamen of the crocus flower and it’s the most expensive spice in the world, so use it sparingly – Spanish saffron is known to be of very high quality.
After 2 hours taste again before serving – mine needed a little more sherry vinegar. I ate it with some sourdough bread drizzled with olive oil and pinch of salt (pa amb oli) – as the casserole contained all those chickpeas, I didn’t feel like having rice or potatoes. Red wine from Rioja goes well with this kind of dish.