Now's the time that the new seasons lamb is at it's best, the sweet, succulent new lamb being perfect roast with a little garlic. Mind you, much of the lamb sold at this time of year will be lamb that was born in the spring of last year. In the trade it's known as hogget and is usually still very tender and full of flavour. Here's my recipe for a satisfying Moroccan Spiced Lamb casserole. Delicately spiced, you can modify the vegetables to suit your tastes or store cupboard. Fresh fennel which is really at its prime at the moment works particularly well. Ras el Hanout spice is a complex mix of spices which includes cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, ginger and often rosebuds and lavender. It is readily available on the spice shelf of most big supermarkets. The meat you choose can be shoulder or leg of lamb. Cooked on the bone is best but if you prefer to use diced meat then just shorten the cooking time a little. The lovely saffron infused ‘gravy’ is not thickened but if you like a thicker sauce coat the meat in flour before frying. If you make the stew the day before and store in the fridge then you can remove any fat that has set on the top. No lamb? Then try the recipe with chicken which works remarkably well.
The Bake Off'ers were on game pies this week and some of them (the pies) looked amazing. We don't eat enough game in this country even though you can see Muntjac deer, and dazed looking pheasants pre-shooting season, on nearly every corner here in Suffolk. Here's a young man who sells local venison and can even help you learn how to butcher a deer (in case you run one over...)
'We are always discussing new flavours and combinations and wanted to come up with some way of combining chocolate eggs into one of our products,' says Mr Dun a Scottish butcher. 'We did some experimenting with a plain pork sausage meat with the Creme Egg in the middle which we found was very tasty...' Sounds so revolting I'm tempted to try it.
Well they chose the right name for this! As suffolkfoodie had complimentary tickets we went to take a look at Meatopia at London's Tobacco Dock, and taste everything of course. At £5 a go for small portions it was hard on the pocket but once we had fought our way through the smokers, the smoking barbecues and the hacking of bones we found the most exciting thing there...whole Somerset goats wrapped in chicken wire on the outdoor fire pit ... and a very long queue for the roast ox which was going to be at least another four hours according to the woman basting it every few minutes. Great delicious tasting food - but now all I really want is some lentils.
...especially the one in Elmswell who we promised to mention a long time ago and only just got round to doing it. Why? Because it's on our doorstep, has lots of great value choice, couldn't be more helpful if you want to learn about meat - and why would you drive all that way to buy meat from a supermarket if you could get it here?
Steve sells his own farm-reared pork at local farmers markets and he was at the new Elmswell market last Sunday. He doesn't have a website and only uses the internet to check the tide tables when he wants to go fishing, so Google Clavering Pigs if you want to find out where to find him.
I eat a lot of bacon in my job as an Hotel Inspector. But all those breakfasts eaten in my line of duty have not put me off a good rasher of bacon when I get home
Dry Cured Back Bacon finished in Black Treacle and Beer.
Hill Top Smokehouse had a tasty looking stall at the Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fair at the weekend. There is an online shop, so order yourself some award winning goodies for Christmas. Or if you are passing by either of the family run butchers shop's R J Smiths of Needham Market or Byfords Traditional Fresh Foods of Rayleigh, Essex pop in and buy some.