Very Slow Cooked Lamb Breast with Onions, Anchovies and Potatoes

Big Man and I are addicted to Car Boot Sales. They are (I think) a curiously English phenomenon, like caravanning and Morris dancing. Neither of which are our thing, but each to his own I say.

Basically it’s a good chance for a clear out of all your old rubbish/unwanted gifts/unwise purchases and fashion horrors. You then load these into your car, rock up to a local leisure centre or field (weather depending and also it helps to have the farmer’s permission and the participation of other car booters or you might get whisked away by the local police for fly tipping or bonkers behaviour) and sell your stuff out of the car boot. If, like me, you love to recycle and reuse and you think someone else’s unwanted stuff could possibly be your treasure and live in hope of coming across a Lalique Vase or Fabergé Egg for pennies which you will then sell for an enormous fortune, then car booting is for you. If the thought of rummaging through someone else’s rubbish turns your stomach….perhaps not.

Recently I bought the world’s most enormous slow cooker for a few pounds at a Car Boot Sale. Result! I’ve wanted one for ages but as nouvelle cuisine sized portions are not my thing (I’m more an Army Catering sort of Chica) I’ve struggled to find one that will let me cook up a good sized pot of food with plenty for dinner then leftovers.

Food Ago 2014 005

My first experiment was a chick pea dish, even though it was a hot, hot day. Delicious, the chick peas were melt in your mouth tender, although it was more a dish for a cold winter’s night.

Flushed with the success of my chick peas I thought I’d try cooking a piece of meat and a rolled lamb breast in the freezer beckoned to me. To be honest, it wasn’t that huge, but made plenty for two good meals for both of us.

Probably not the most photogenic meal in the world, but so tasty, the anchovies melt and just give a depth of flavour to the vegetables (not fishy at all) and can be easily cooked in a regular oven on low/medium for about 3-4 hours.

Ingredients (to serve 4)

  • 1 boned rolled lamb breast (about 800g)
  • 8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 medium onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced (I used both red and white)
  • 1 head of garlic, the cloves separated but not peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 tin of anchovies in oil
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A glass of white wine

Mix all the ingredients (except the lamb, salt & pepper and wine), together and put into the bottom of the slow cooker or a deep ovenproof dish. Place the lamb on top, season well and pour the wine over. Cover with a lid and cook in the slow cooker for about 10 hours on low or in the oven (as explained above).

When cooked, slice the meat and serve over the potatoes which will be cooked but still holding their shape, and the onions which will be melted and tender. Pour over the juices and congratulate yourself on how fabulous you are at making something so tasty with so little effort. Or is it just me that does that?!

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Pasta with Cabbage, Sage and Breadcrumbs

Well, anchovy and garlic too, plus a little parmesan at the end but it’s not such a snappy title that way. Big Man came home from one of his little excursions with a beautiful cabbage. I think in England they are called Spring cabbages, the lighter green ones with very tight leaves.

Pasta With Cabbage & Breadcrumbs (1)

We enjoy it simply shredded and cooked for a few moments until wilted and then served cold with vinaigrette. But this was a whole lot of cabbage and I needed to find other ways to use it. I remembered a lovely Italian pasta dish made with Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Kale) and decided to make something similar.

If you prepare everything before you start cooking it’s quick to pull together, you just need to work methodically and in the time it takes for your pasta to cook (well, dried pasta at least) you’ll have a beautiful meal ready to take to the table.

Ingredients (per person, just multiply per number of diners but don’t worry about being too exact)

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • About 100g finely shredded cabbage
  • About 50g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2-4 tinned anchovies (omit for a vegetarian version)
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Your choice of pasta

Start by putting the water for the pasta on to boil and then blanching the shredded cabbage until it wilts. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and drain, add your pasta to the water and, as long as you have your other ingredients prepared, you can get on with pulling the rest of the dish together.

Heat two thirds of the oil and when it is very hot drop the sage leaves in and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Pasta With Cabbage & Breadcrumbs (4)

Now add your fresh breadcrumbs and with the oil still on high, move them around in the pan (it helps to use a deep frying pan or wok for this dish) until they start to turn golden. Remove from the pan and put them onto a flat dish to cool slightly and crisp up.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and turn the heat down slightly before adding the garlic and anchovies. When the anchovies have “melted” (this won’t take long at all, a minute or so) add the cabbage and turn the heat back up to high. Stir fry for a couple of minutes (you can allow the edges to brown a little if you like) then add most of the breadcrumbs, reserving some to sprinkle over the top of the dish.

Drain the pasta and mix it in with the cabbage. It helps to add a tablespoon or two of the cooking liquid, but don’t overdo it.

Sprinkle over the remaining breadcrumbs and crispy sage leaves and serve with plenty of parmesan. Buon appetito!

Big Man and I are heading west on Saturday with the pups for a week in Portugal, the Eastern Algarve to be precise. I’ll try to post once more before we head off but it’s turning into one of those weeks. I know we won’t have internet coverage where we’re staying, but fingers crossed that I’ll be able to get online at some point. So…if I go quiet for a while it’s because I’m eating seafood or bacalao and sipping Portuguese wines whilst watching the sea. I’m sure you’ll understand!

Lechuga con anchoas – Lettuce hearts with anchovies

Oh so simple...

This one is so quick and simple, it doesn´t even need a recipe!  Perhaps just a quick explanation, though.  This is served in Andalucía as a pre meal appetiser in the summer or when unexpected guests pop round and it´s drink time.  Add a plate of slice Spanish cheese, some jamon or salchichon (salami), a cool drink of your choice and you´ve served a super speedy tapas selection without even really trying!

Wash and cut a lettuce heart into eighths, open a tin of anchovies (in olive oil if possible) and lay an anchovy over each slice, pour the oil from the tin over, add a squeeze of lemon or white wine vinegar and serve.  These are picked up with the fingers, or little cocktail forks if you´re feeling refined, then just munched and crunched.

If you can´t stomach anchovies, replace with a strip of roasted red pepper.