A little something to get us into the Christmas spirit, culinarily-speaking. It isn’t obviously book-related, but you could always curl up with A Christmas Carol and a glass of the oh-be-joyful while it’s cooking. Lovely to eat on Christmas Eve.
The recipe comes from Antony Worrall-Thompson’s Countdown to Christmas TV series broadcast on ITV (I think) in 2004. The result is meltingly tender lamb in a velvety rich sauce. It’s even better if you cook it a day or two ahead and reheat (see below). Good served with a green vegetable and olive-oil mash or dauphinoise potatoes. Wozzer says it’s equally divine made with beef.
SLOW-COOKED LAMB WITH PORT AND CHRISTMAS FRUITS
1kg (2lb) lamb shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 0.5cm/1″ pieces
Seasoned flour for dusting
2 tbsp olive oil
175g/6oz smoked bacon, diced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
275ml/10fl oz red wine
500ml/1 pint beef stock
150ml/5fl oz port
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
12 stoned dried prunes
100g/2oz dried cranberries
115g/4oz button mushrooms
2 bay leaves
1 orange, zest only
1tbsp tomato puree
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tbsp roughly chopped parsley
1. Toss the lamb in the seasoned flour. Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole and brown all over in batches.
2. Add the bacon, celery, onion, garlic, thyme, redcurrant jelly. red wine, beef stock, port and Worcestershire sauce, along with the dried cranberries, prunes, button mushrooms, bay leaves, orange zest and tomato puree. Adjust seasoning.
3. Bring slowly to simmering point, then cover and cook in the oven at 180C/350F/Gas 4 for two and a half hours or until the lamb is tender.
4. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes . Skim off any fat that may have risen to the surface. Serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley.
You can make this a few days in advance and keep it refrigerated. The flavours develop and meld deliciously. Reheat for 1 hour at 180C/350F/Gas 4.