Monday, 10 September 2012

How not to make breadcrumbs: Lamb Caldereta

For last night's dinner I decided to go for a homely Sunday stew, to warm the cockles of a little giraffe's heart. I remembered this recipe from when I cooked for three solid days in order to do tapas for large numbers of people for the other half's 30th birthday last year. (He had bought me three Spanish cookbooks for my own birthday a month beforehand, so I didn't have much option but to take the hint.) The other half lived in Huelva in Spain for a couple of years, and this dish originates from that region.

Instead of going for Option 1 (what I'd do if left to my own devices - chuck lamb in the casserole pan with a load of smoked paprika, cumin, onions, garlic, chorizo, butter beans, tomato, herbs, stock etc. and leave on a low heat for as many hours as you can) I decided that I would stick true to the roots of the dish and do it 'properly'. Unfortunately, I am not particularly good at doing this, as the following recipe demonstrates:

Lamb Caldereta, George's Dinner style

This is where you can play a game of 'spot the additions to the supposedly accurately rustic recipe from Huelva'.
Provinence approved recipe: In a casserole dish fry two small or one large chopped onion on a medium heat, with two chopped cloves of garlic and one diced carrot.
George's dinner recipe: Also add a chili with seeds (I couldn't help it, it felt left out).

Provinence: Cut lamb steaks into chunks and add to pan. Brown the meat, then add a ham bone, two tins of chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, parsley, 250ml white wine and 400ml water. Bring to the boil, then place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours at 180c.
George: Lamb steaks? Have you any idea how expensive they are?! Let's go for the good old British butcher-verified lamb stewing meat. Right, next. A ham bone? Unfortunately I have no dog in this house, so can't even substitute it. Better use some stock instead of water to make up for the lack of ham-bone flavour. 250ml white wine? Ah, lovely. 3/4 of a bottle left for me...

Provinence: In the meantime, combine 25g of breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon pimenton (sweet smoked paprika), 1 tablespoon cumin and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
George: Breadcrumbs. Ah, this is where the gluten-free problem kicks in. Had better use one of those gluten-free rolls I put in the freezer.

After defrosting and drying out said gluten-free roll, I turned to the actual breadcrumb making. Now, unfortunately I don't own a food processor, so I rely heavily on my hand-held whizzy chopper thing. Which would be fine if I hadn't broken the plastic cylindrical jug that you're supposed to use to chop things in. I go for a plastic mixing bowl instead. Result: breadcrumbed kitchen.

It was at this point that I decided I wasn't doing too well with the 'sticking to the original recipe to make it just like Mama used to make' plan, but decided to soldier on, and made up for the fact my kitchen resembled a breadcrumb-blasted bomb site by using at least three times the amount of spices I should have.

Provinence: Take the casserole from the oven, and remove the lamb chunks. Set aside while liquidising the vegetables.
George: Oh no... I'm sure you're not supposed to use a hand-held whizzy chopper thing on boiling hot liquid.

At this point I considered taking a photo to show the results, but it looked a little bit too much like when my Dad had a volcanic eruption from a pressure cooker full of blackberry jam. So I didn't, and instead drunk the rest of the wine.

Provinence: On the stove, stir in the breadcrumb mixture and leave to thicken for 10 minutes. Add the lamb and heat through. Serve with green beans.
George: Ok, we can do this bit. Apart from the green beans. But there's a courgette in the fridge. That stew looks a bit thin, doesn't it. Maybe gluten-free breadcrumbs don't work like proper ones. Oh dear, there's goes my resolve.

After dicing the courgette, pouring in a tin of cannellini beans and adding copious amounts of salt and pepper, the results were actually rather tasty, although I still think it needed longer cooking on a lower heat. The other half was fairly impressed with my attempts at providence-minded cooking, but wasn't so impressed with the cleaning job on the kitchen.

Next time, I'll stick to Option 1.

1 comment:

  1. This is very funny. I love George's commentary. Bring George in more often! We. Want. George. We. Want. George.