Saturday 25 February 2017

Swedish chocolate coffee lamb

2oz/50g self-raising flour, seasoned with ½ tsp mustard powder

Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2¼ lb/1kg very lean Irish lamb (fillet or leg), cut into 3cm/1¼ in cubes

3oz/75g unsalted butter

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 large onion, thinly sliced

12 shallots, blanched in boiling water, then peeled and finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp Kahlúa (coffee liqueur)

9fl oz/250ml strong filter coffee

1½ pt/750ml good-quality lamb stock

2oz/50g dark chocolate, minimum 60pc cocoa solids, broken into solids

For the croûtons:

1 slice white bread

1 slice granary bread

Olive oil

Spices and seasoning

1 blade mace, crumbled

12 cardamom pods, crushed

1 vanilla pod, de-seeded

½ tsp nutmeg, grated

1 star anise

3 bay leaves, broken

To garnish:

1 tbsp crème fraîche

Handful chopped fresh parsley

Irish lamb is one of the other foods closely associated with Easter, and this 'fragrant alternative to an ordinary casserole' is a good example of how sweet and savoury can be so successful together -- and it could be the perfect dish to give the mood lift associated with chocolate to people who think they don't like it.

Serves between four and six.

1First, gently dry-toast all the spices and seasoning for the croûtons in a heavy-based frying pan over a very low heat for 10-15 minutes; do not allow them to burn. Reserve until needed for the croûtons.

2Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7. Season the flour with the mustard powder, salt and pepper. Toss the lamb in the seasoned flour and coat well. Rub together 1oz/25g of butter and the remaining seasoned flour. Fry the prepared garlic, onion and shallots in the remaining butter and olive oil until golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3In the same pan, fry the flour-coated lamb in batches until browned on all sides. Turn into a large flameproof casserole dish and add the garlic, onion and shallot mixture.

4Add the Kahlúa and the coffee to the sticky brown residue in the pan and, over a medium heat, whisk together for about four minutes, scraping up all the bits from the base of the pan, to form a glossy smooth sauce; cook until reduced by half.

Add the lamb stock and the flour and butter mixture, continuing to stir.

Bring to the boil and pour over the meat and onion mixture.

Cook in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 160ºC/Gas Mark 3 for a further 45 minutes, or until the lamb is tender.

Insert a knife into the centre of a chunk -- the lamb should just slide off.

5While the meat is cooking, prepare the croûtons. Blend all the reserved spices to a crumbled mass, discarding the cardamom pods.

Cut the bread into cubes and gently fry with the spices and olive oil, adding more oil as it is absorbed by the bread. Set aside.

6Remove the lamb from the oven and stir in the pieces of chocolate, ensuring it is completely blended through the casserole.

7Garnish with a swirl of crème fraîche, a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley and the croûtons.

8Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Irish Independent

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