Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lamb pilaf

I learned the basic idea from my mum, who is a great cook - her roast chicken is my death row meal - but who doesn't go so far as to write down her own recipes. There is no better way of using up leftover roast lamb. It will work with other leftover roast meats, but for some reason (probably to do with the spicing), lamb is by far the best.

Ingredients (for two people)

1 bowlful of cooked lamb meat, preferably hacked off the bone of a leg or shoulder, but any leftover cooked lamb will do
1 onion, halved: 1 half chopped finely and the other half chopped coarsely
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
three chopped cloves of garlic
a handful of green beans, topped, tailed and cut in half
1 cup of pinenuts
the leaves from about six stalks of thyme
the zest of 1/2 a lemon (keep the lemon itself)
olive oil
200ml vegetable stock
200g brown rice

Sweat the rice first in some olive oil, so that it starts to smell nutty. Then add about twice its own volume of water, bring to a simmer and cover lightly so that it cooks while you're doing everything else.

Heat a big sauté pan over a medium heat and toast the pinenuts until you can smell them and they're very lightly browned. Set them aside.

Add olive oil to the pan and fry the onion in it. Add the spices and garlic and let the onion soften and the spices fry.

Add the lamb, turn up the heat a bit and let it sizzle for a couple of minutes in the oil. Add the thyme leaves.

Add the green beans and let them sweat in the pan for a few minutes - take care that the garlic doesn't burn. By now, everything should be getting a dark and spicy crust. If so, add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

You want to boil off the stock - this isn't supposed to be oozy and running like a risotto. It's a pilaf. So scrape up as much stuff off the bottom of the pan as you can, and let it boil away.

When the liquid has almost all boiled away, add the lemon zest and squeeze some lemon into it.

When the liquid has all gone and it's starting to fry again, the rice should be done. If so, drain the rice (if necessary) and add it to the pan, stirring it well in and letting it soak up all the flavours from the meat/spice/onion/green bean mixture. Add the pinenuts at this point.

When it's all incorporated together and the rice has got to know the flavours of everything in the pan, serve in bowls and squeeze more lemon over the top. Season to taste.

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