Today’s recipe is inspired by Morocco – I just LOVE the flavours they use in their cooking.
Mechoui (marinated lamb backstrap)
- 1kg lamb backstrap, cut into 2 cm thick strips
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- Sea salt
- 2 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
- 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Good drizzle of olive oil
Put the lamb into a bowl and add all the marinade ingredients. Use your hands to combine. Cover and leave for 1 hour in the fridge before grilling medium/rare on the barbecue.
Serve with minted yoghurt
This is soooo yummy and the meat is all succulent and tender. Serve with some natural yogurt.
Back in the “olden days” nobody ate the shank part of the lamb, unless you were poor, because everyone seemed to believe the “cheap cut” wouldn’t taste good.
As I have learnt more and more about food over the years, I have come to the realisation that food today has benefited so much from the methods poor people, even many hundreds of years ago, used to use to not only make their food taste good, but also preserve it.
Take this as an example – many peasants in Italy could not afford to buy cheese to put on their dishes – so they ground their stale bread into crumbs, toasted them with a little olive oil (you can infuse them with other flavour too, like garlic and rosemary) and scattered them on top instead. If you haven’t tried this – it’s a definite must. It doesn’t taste like cheese, of course, but it’s a perfect alternative. It gives a beautiful texture to the dish with the crunch of the bread crumbs, but it also adds an excellent nutty flavour.
Meat really is no different. People with little money would take the pieces of the meat that no one else really wanted, like the lamb’s shank, and cooked them slowly – to make what would otherwise be tough meat, very tender.
Nowadays, lamb shanks are the “in” thing. Long cooking makes it melt-in-your-mouth – just incredible. Sadly now that demand has risen, the shank is no longer cheap – but well worth the money and the time to cook them.
I’m totally obsessed with Moroccan flavours at the moment – I think that’s why I came up with this. As soon as it comes to the boil, the smell of cinnamon, cumin and other spices just fills the house. So amazing!
Lamb shanks with cumin and paprika
- 4 frenched lamb shanks
- 1/3 cup of seasoned flour (salt and pepper)
- 3 tsp Moroccan spice blend
- 2 tsp of paprika
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 red capsicum, cut into thick slices
- 5 button mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced
- 1 400gm can of chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups of beef stock
- 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
Pre-heat your oven to 150 degrees (c)
Place flour and salt and pepper in a large freezer bag. Put one shank in the bag and toss it around until coated with flour. Repeat for all shanks.
Heat a few good glugs of olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan until it’s hot. Cook the lamb shanks on all sides until they are browned, but not cooked. The browning process is about increasing flavour – not cooking.
Remove the lamb shanks from the pan and add a little more oil, if required. Add the onion to the pan, with a pinch or two of salt and pepper and sweat for about 2 minutes.
Add the garlic, Moroccan spice blend, paprika, cumin and cayenne to the pan and turn the heat down. Stir the spices for a minute or two, or until they start to release their flavour. Don’t let them burn, or they’ll go bitter.
Now add the canned tomatoes, stock, zucchini, mushrooms and capsicum and return the shanks to the pan. Cover, bring to the boil and then once boiling, place in the oven.
Cook for 1 1/2 to two hours. Check after 1 hours to see how the meat is progressing. To tell if it is ready – the meat should almost be falling off the bone. Once the meat is cooked, stir the parsley through – this gives everything a really nice lift.
Enjoy with some steamed rice, or cous cous.
If you like all the warming flavours of cinnamon (which is part of the Moroccan spice blend), paprika and cumin, this is a recipe for you. The cayenne gives it a little kick, so if you don’t like it a bit hot, leave it out.
As winter leaves us and spring arrives, what dishes are you sad to be saying goodbye to?
These spicy lamb koftas were inspired by a barbecue we went to last weekend.
In a bid to cook something a bit different, Matt’s mum whipped up these little gems. They were absolutely delicious! Sometimes we can fall into the trap, especially when it comes to cooking on the outside grill, to buy the same sausages, make the same salad and leave it at that. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I love familiarity – but getting creative can be great too.
After a busy day and a fair bit of eating, I felt like something fairly ljght and that I could get on the table within 30 minutes. I didn’t have Matt’s mum’s recipe, but I could vaguely remember what she added – the rest I just made up in my head based on the flavour I thought would work. These were a lot more spicy – but I love a good bit of kick. If making for kids – just omit the chilli.
What are your tried and true barbecue recipes and do you remember where they came from? Maybe it’s the pasta salad your mum used to make and she has passed it onto you? Or maybe you had a salad at a friend’s house, loved it and got the recipe and never looked back since. Share your stories in the comments section below. But for now – here’s how to make my lamb koftas.
500gm of lean lamb mince
1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2cm piece of ginger, peeled
1 green chilli – seeds removed
1/4 cup of coriander leaves and their stems chopped
1 tbs of ground cummins
1 tsp of ground coriander
The zest of one lemon
1 tbs of Greek yogurt
1/2 a cup of pitta bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to season
Place the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander in a food processor until it is finely chopped.
In a bowl, add the lamb, the mixture you have created in the food processor and all remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and make into little sausages. You can also mold them around wooden skewers – if you like. Pop in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm them up.
Heat your barbecue, or a frypan with some olive oil – and gently place the koftas into the pan or on the grill plate.
These koftas are quite delicate, so try not to move them before they are nice and brown. Once done, turn over and cook further until they are cooked through.
Serve with Greek yogurt (I mixed the juice of half s lemon, salt, pepper and coriander into mine) and serve with a green salad. I did a Greek salad for us with tomatoes, feta and olives.
Whenever I watch cooking shows where they are cooking Greek food, I always feel so inspired.
The flavours always looks so fresh and fabulous with garlic, lemon, salty olives and feta cheese and quite often include the aromatic herb, oregano.
Greek salad is one I really love, although I’m not a huge fan of lettuce. Now, I know when you are trying to eat healthy, you need to go easy on the salt. But I was complaining to my brother the other day about my distaste for the green, leafy veg and he suggested a light dusting of salt. Salt, on lettuce? I’m a huge fan of seasoning food, but salt on lettuce seemed a little weird … Until I tried it! Wow, it made all the difference and really brought out the flavour of the lettuce. Hardly surprising, as that’s what salt does – but I happily ate a whole plate of lettuce after that. Brilliant!
Normally when I make a Greek salad, I dish up olives, feta, tomatoes etc for myself, minus lettuce. But, with my new attitude to the green stuff, I was in the mood to do a Greek salad again.
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