Thursday, 1 September 2011

Recipe - Caramelised Onion Spiced Braised Lamb with Green Wild Rice Risotto

One of the best food memories I have is of duck. I was 7 (I think) and my parents and I visited their friends' house for a dinner party. We had duck. It was such good duck. I can't really elaborate much further than that apart from I remember it being really fatty in a delicious way. That friend of my parents came to visit this Tuesday and cooked that same duck and brought it to our house. Sadly, I was in Dubrovnik (more on that later maybe) but my mother saved me some. I just had some with rice and some spicy plum chutney my mother made. I realise now that what my mother's friend had done is confit duck but instead of using French spices, she'd used Asian ones. It didn't quite live up to the amazing heights that my mind had built up for it but then I suspect that's always the way when it comes to replicating good memories. It was still worth mentioning though. And also fits in with a food trend I've noticed in my cooking recently: taking European methods and mixing them with 'home' (Indian subcontinent) spices. That's exactly what I did for my 'I've been Ari, you've been flatmates' meal. Asian spiced braised lamb shanks with green wild rice risotto.
I've made a green risotto before. I made a plain risotto and added lots of green stuff to it. Finely chopped spinach, basil, parsley and mint. I think it tasted nice but I was disappointed (a recurring theme if anyone's been paying attention.) What had led me to making a green risotto was thinking of an accompaniment for some salmon fillets I was planning on grilling coupled with a craving for my mother's salmon with rice and spinach. I don't know why her salmon with rice and spinach tastes so good. Like most of her cooking, it involves mainly oil, onion, chilli and turmeric. But I think she might cook it in a certain way to make the onions caramelise which provides a really nice contrast to the garlicky, salty spinach. Anyway, in my head, grilled salmon with green risotto would satisfy these cravings whilst at the same time giving me the opportunity to cook something new.
I would've preferred to braise a shoulder of lamb but after failing to find any of a suitable size, I adapted this recipe.

2.5 large onions, sliced finely
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
1 tsp each ground ginger, turmeric, cumin and coriander
0.5 tsp each ground carraway seeds, cloves
125ml stock
125ml white wine
4 lamb shanks, sprinkled with salt all over
1 bay leaf

Brown lamb shanks all over in a bit of olive oil. Set aside on a plate.
Fry sliced onions on a low heat for 20 minutes. Stir in garlic, spices and sugar and fry for a further 7 minutes. 
Mix in stock and wine and add the bay leaf. Bring liquid to a simmer. Place the lamb shanks on top. Cover and cook for 2 hours.

125g risotto rice
125g mixed red rice, wild rice and brown rice (you can get it in packets of the three mixed)
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
chopped parsley (stalks and all)
chopped spinach
chopped mint (just leaves)
1 tsp turmeric

Make a risotto (adding in the other kinds of rice at the same time as you do the risotto rice). Because of the different types of rice used, make the risotto as you usually would and then 10 minutes before it's done, pour in whatever stock you have left and leave it with the lid on on a medium-high heat. Mix in finely chopped herbs, spinach and the turmeric at the end. Sorry that the quantities are often imprecise - my style of cooking rarely involves measuring. This might explain what led to the Great Banana Cake Disaster of 2010.

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