Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Tasting Jerusalem #41 – Lamb

Written by Dee

Back again with a new Tasting Jerusalem update as I bring the monthly features up to date.

November 2016’s featured ingredient was Lamb, which has been a commonly used meat in the Jerusalem region since biblical times, perhaps even earlier, and one which offered several choices of delicious sounding recipes to try out this month.  I made the excellent Lamb Schawarma back in July (click here for details) which would have been a perfect showcase recipe and it was certainly tempting to make it again, but I opted instead for a lamb meatball recipe.

Lamb Meatballs with Barberries, Yoghurt and Herbs
In addition to this month’s featured ingredient, this recipe, on page 199, included Barberries and Yoghurt, both of which have been featured ingredients in previous months.

Normally, Jay is our meatball maker...ok ok, I’ll admit it: It’s because I don’t like getting my hands all messy by mixing the ingredients together, but I was on cooking duty when the time came to make the recipe so I had to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in.  The meatballs were enriched with barberries, cinnamon and allspice, and were initially browned in the pan and set aside while the sauce was prepared.

The base for the sauce was provided by chopped shallots which were softened in the lamb fat which I had left in the pan.  The recipe says to wipe the pan clean before frying the shallots but I decided instead to see if any extra flavour from the meat could be retained.  Wine, and then stock and a little sugar was then added to form the body of the sauce.

The meatballs were returned to the pan, along with some dried figs and cooked in the sauce over a low heat until the sauce had reduced to the right consistency.

We served the meatballs and their sauce over the Rice and Orzo which we cooked according to the recipe on page 103.  As an aside, the Rice and Orzo recipe has been our greatest discovery since we first started working our way through the book.  It is certainly the one we’ve made most often, and we always smile when we decide to make it.

The finished dish certainly delivered the sweet and sour flavours that the recipe commentary promised and both Jay and I were very happy with what we had made.  The barberries delivered small bursts of intense fruity flavour that still worked in this savoury dish.  Jay wasn’t convinced by the figs and took the option that was suggested in the recipe commentary to remove them, but I liked them and kept them in there.  The yoghurt and herbs were excellent garnishes;  the former providing a mild creamy taste to counteract the strong taste of the sauce with the latter providing freshness and crispness.

The barberries and copious amounts of herbs included in this recipe suggested to me the Persian influence which has appeared in previous recipes such as the Broad Bean Kuku (click here for details) and Pistachio Soup (click here for details).  I have spotted one or two more recipes in the book with a similar Persian influence and I will be making all of them in time.  I wonder how a themed menu would work out?

“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to omgyummy.com  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest

(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the omgyummy.com web site)

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