Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Navarin of Lamb

My friends got me a copy of the official Economy Gastronomy book, which was fitting, given what I do here. One of the recipes that was found on the book that I have been meaning to try since watching the first episode of the programme was the Navarin of Lamb, basically a tomato-based lamb casserole, which appeared to be a very easy gastropub-style dish. As the only Sainsbury's Basics lamb items all had bones however, I was originally doing a Navarin of Beef, using the Basics Casserole Beef that I have featured previously, until I came along this little gem.

This was recently introduced to the Basics line, and is originally meant to be used for roasting. As a result, it is very well-marbled with fat, so that the lamb can remain moist and tender while in the oven. With this in mind, on hindsight, I should have taken the trouble to either render or trim the fat away from the lamb, so that the result would not have been so oily. Still, at £4.19 per kg it is possibly the cheapest boneless red meat by weight; £2.72 can easily serve three to four. By contrast, the neck of lamb that the recipe calls for costs £10.70 per kg at Sainsbury's, although in both cases one would probably get better prices at the local butcher.

The Navarin of Lamb requires bite-sized pieces, so prepare the lamb breast accordingly. I found the meat rather tough to cut, which is to be expected, coming from the front of the animal, hence being more suited for slow-cooking.

Once that is done, coat the pieces in flour, and fry in an oiled pan until golden. If possible, try to use the fat from the lamb to oil the pan for extra flavour. The flour would combine with the fat to form a roux, which will thicken the subsequent sauce that it is to form the base for.

Fry an entire chopped onion and a head of garlic, cut horizontally.

Once the onions have caramelised, add Basics white wine, and reduce by half.

It's only very recently that the Sainsbury's in my area introduced Basics White Wine to complement the Red Wine they already offer. Either that, or I've not been very attentive when searching for this. Unfortunately, like its red counterpart, it is found severely wanting. The main problem with this wine is that it lacks any flavour whatsoever, and drinking it one is reminded of very diluted turpentine.

The fruity flavours are certainly there. Just not there in adequate force. Still, for a cheap cooking wine where its flavour is not meant to be noticed it would do.

Add a can of tomatoes and the lamb, reduce by half again.

Finally, add chicken stock and season with Basics herb mix, reducing by half once more, leaving for an hour.

The finished product, not shown in this post, should be a thick, dark red sauce with lamb that quite literally melts in your mouth. Possibly one of the more successful posts of this blog. Consider also that neck of lamb at Sainsbury's costs more than the Basics lamb breast, and one will realise that we have actually managed to improve on the original recipe in terms of cost efficiency.

(with apologies and gratitude to Paul Merrett, for the original recipe. Show your thanks by visiting his gastropub someday.)

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Lamb Breast£4.19/kg (typical 650g)3-4N/AN/A; no equivalent
Spanish White Wine£2.53750mlvariableBetter wine. Recommended

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