Lamb with Quince, Pomegranate and Coriander

The 6th January is the Feast of Epiphany, celebrating the arrival of the Three Kings to Bethlehem. In Spain el Día De Los Reyes is a feast Day, and widely anticipated and celebrated by young and old. Traditionally a Roscón de Reyes (a Cake of Kings) is made. Check out my recipe from last year here, or Giovanna´s beautiful creation here.

Although we´re currently in England, we weren´t going to let a celebration pass us by, and the opportunity to celebrate it with best friends and parents was too good to miss.

Lamb with Quince (1)

We may have had to eat off a folding table in a half decorated room with mismatched plates from charity shops, but we were going to eat well.

We started with Jamon y Queso (Ham & Cheese) and Habas con Jamon (Broad Beans with Ham) and a delicious Brandada. Check out Mad Dog´s fantastic post all about this Catalan delicacy.

Our main course was inspired by my Christmas present from Big Man, the beautiful book Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi. We had bought a couple of quince back from Spain with us, although I didn´t have quite enough so added in chunks of butternut squash (Ottolenghi recommends pear) which worked really well.  Below is how I cooked the recipe with the original recipe also shown.

Ingredients (serves 4 as a main course)

  • 400g minced lamb
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 1 red chili, chopped (I used 1 tsp hot pimentón)
  • 20g chopped coriander plus 2tbsp to garnish
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 1tsp allspice
  • 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 2 medium onions peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 medium free range egg
  • 4 quince (1.3kg in total) I used 2 quince and a small butternut squash
  • ½ lemon squeezed plus 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses (I couldn´t find this so used honey plus the juice of an extra half a lemon)
  • 2 tsp sugar (I left this out)
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Seeds of ½ pomegranate
  • Salt and black pepper

Place the lamb in a bowl with the garlic, chili, coriander, breadcrumbs, allspice, half the ginger, half the onion, egg and seasoning. Mix with your hands and then form small meatballs. The original recipe suggests stuffing halves of quince, Believe me, this is very hard work as quince are very hard to peel and chop, so I went with his other suggestion to chop the quince and cook with the lamb meatballs.

Lamb with Quince (2)

Peel and chop the quince/squash into large chunks and finely chop about a quarter of the chunks. Leave the larger pieces in a pot of water with the juice of half a lemon to stop the quince turning too brown. Or don´t bother – it will still look and taste good when cooked!

Heat the oil and add the finely chopped quince/squash, onions, ginger and cardamom pods. Cook (covered) until softened then add the molasses and lemon juice (or honey and lemon juice), sugar (if using), stock and seasoning. Now add the quince/squash and meatballs and cook gently for about an hour (covered) or until the fruit is soft. Remove the lid and turn up the heat and cook for a further few minutes until the sauce is thick and pulpy, check for seasoning and sprinkle with the pomegranate and fresh coriander before serving. I also added an extra squeeze of lemon juice.

Tastes even better if made the day before (just don´t add the coriander and pomegranate). I served it with basmati rice into which I stirred browned onions and cumin seeds (toasted and crushed with a pestle and mortar).

Fruit Platter (1)

Phew – a lovely meal with friends which was rounded off with singing and dancing (of the silly variety), Roscón and a fruit platter which went some way to convincing us that we hadn´t consumed any calories at all over Christmas and New Year.

Roscón de Reyes – The Cake of Kings

A final post on Festive Food from me here.  The Twelve Days of Christmas come to an end on Twelfth Night, the evening of 5th January.  Traditionally in Spain this was the night to bake your Roscón de Reyes to be eaten the next day, Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of The Three Kings.

For the children of Spain this means polishing their shoes to be put outside, awaiting the arrival of the Kings to fill them with gifts.  I guess little gifts were the norm way back, although that has changed over time.  Naughty children were left Carbón, or coal….so get polishing and I hope you´ve all been good.

The Roscón is a light, brioche like sweet bread which is filled and covered with candied fruits and often split and filled with whipped cream or sweet custard.  Additionally it is traditional to bake or put into the cake a small trinket (it used to be a figure of the Christ child) and a dried bean.  The finder of the trinket in their slice was King for the day, and the finder of the bean had to pay for the cake!

This is the first year I´ve attempted to make a Roscón, but I was pretty pleased with the results.  I hope my neighbour is too as I am taking this over to her this afternoon as a little thank you in return for a huge basket of Persimmons she gave me.  Happy Epiphany to you all on 6th January!

Ingredients

  • 200g approx of sultanas, glacé cherries and candied peel, soaked in alcohol if desired (see my Boozy Fruits recipe)
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 sachet of quick/easy blend yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150 ml milk
  • 100g softened butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Grated zest of one orange and one lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • To decorate – about 6 roughly crushed sugar cubes or 6 heaped teaspoons of sugar dampened with a few drops of water and thick slices of candied peel (see this excellent post on how to make your own over at Rufus´ Food and Spirits Guide) and some glacé cherries.  You will also need one beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of apricot jam diluted with a little water to glaze when the cake is baked.

Mix the flour, yeast and salt together. In a separate bowl beat the sugar, zests and butter until fluffy then gradually add the beaten egg, vanilla essence and milk.  It doesn´t matter if it curdles.  Now add the flour and knead to form a dough – if it is too dry, add a splash of milk.

Now add the fruits and knead for 5 minutes on a well floured surface with plenty of flour for your hands – things could get messy!  Put the dough into a bowl, cover and leave to double in size (about 2 hours).

Now knead again briefly and push a hole into the centre of the dough so that you can start to form a ring.  Imagine you are making a pizza doughnut with a hole in the middle.  When it is about the size of a large dinner plate, put it onto a lined baking sheet.  You can tuck the trinket/bean wrapped in foil under the cake now or put it into the cooled cake later if you are using. Note, next time I make one, I´ll make the hole in the middle larger as the dough rises quite a lot during baking.

Leave for about an hour until it has doubled in size and brush with beaten egg before pressing the candied fruit in around the top and sprinkling the sugar over.

Bake at 180º for about 45 minutes (check after 30 mins) and brush with the jam when it has cooled a little.  Leave to cool completely.  You can now serve it as it is or split it though the middle and fill with whipped cream or confectioner´s custard. Warning – this is a HUGE Roscón and will serve about 10-12 people.  It does keep for a few days, and if unfilled is also good sliced and toasted.

Adapted from a BBC Good Food Recipe.