Sunday, July 11, 2010
Meat and I don't have a very good relationship. It's not a concious decision to ignore it on my part, it's just I prefer to cook and eat other foods instead. I think my slow turn off meat started when I was about 13 and went camping with a family whose diet consisted of 95% meat and 5% bread (the complete opposite to me). I came home after 2 weeks never wanting to see a piece of steak again in my life.
And then comes the social concious bit. After a particularly thought provoking lecture at uni, I went home and googled the environmental impacts of meat production (don't ask me why I put myself through this emotional torment- so bad but tastes so good). And then I looked on RSPCA and PETA, where articles titled 'Top 10 Reasons NOT to Eat Pigs' alonside an adorable looking piglet (who I swore was cuter than the pig in the Babe movies) feature quite heavily.
This lead to me dabbling in vegetarianism, but the allure of a rich spaghetti bolognese always caught me off guard and before I knew it I was going back for seconds.
These days I tend to cook myself mostly vegetable based dishes, purely because I honestly have a deep love for vegetables. Although I often chuck some chicken into my stirfries, most of the time tofu does just the trick instead. I love roasting up a big mushroom, full of yummy toppings and adore roasted vegies topped with yoghurt.
Even when I go out to eat, I'm more inclined to opt for seafood because it's a luxury in my household where my dad hates the smell and sight of any creature from the sea.
And because of this, I've always been a little bit scared of cooking meat, especially for others. Anytime I've had a one-off craving for a steak, I've completely butchered it (pun intended)... but since I'm getting sick of being asked every time I cook, "does this have meat in it?" by my prehistoric brother I decided to make lamb because everyone knows it's a crowd pleaser and it's definitely my favourite red meat.
I used a recipe by Anna Gare, a sassy (yes, sassy) cook who has her own show on Foxtel. Literally everything she makes, I want to eat and her recipe for Arabic Lamb was no exception - juicy lamb loin covered in spices and herbs, served with a plethora of roasted vegies, feta cheese and a yoghurt sauce. Yum...but Popeye still will always win with me though.
Arabic Spiced Lamb with Beetroot, Pumpkin and Fetta Salad
1kg lamb loin
4 cardamom pods
½ cinnamon quill
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons garlic
Sea Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 teaspoons pistachios, roughly chopped
200g natural greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon garam masala
200 g fresh beetroot
250g pumpkin or sweet potato, cut into chunks
4 potatoes, cut into small chunks
1 spanish onion, cut into wedges
350 g green beans
100 g smooth feta cheese
Pound all spices in a mortar & pestle & remove cardamom husks. Add garlic, pistachios, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pound to chunky constancy.
Rub all over lamb and marinate for at least 1 hr.
While it's marinating, boil the beetroots in boiling water until soft and tender but still firm (this takes about 20mins). Leave a few centimetres of stalk on the beetroot while they boil to help them retain their beautiful colour. Once cooked, drain and peel off the skin and cut into wedges.
To make an awesome dressing - the water that the beetroots are boiling in will slowly evaporate during this process and you should be left with a little bit of leftover concentrated beetroot juice. Add a splash of verjuice and balsamic vinegar to the beetroot concentrate and simmer over a low heat for a few minutes. Set aside to pour over the rocket leaves later.
Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil and salt over the pumpkin, potatoes and onions and roast in a moderate to hot oven until golden and soft.
Combine the ingredients for the spiced yoghurt and set aside until required.
Blanch beans in boiling water and refresh in cold water and drain. Layer the salad with the rocket, then the beans, the roasted vegies, the beetroot and then the fetta.
Seal lamb in pan and finish cooking in hot oven until cooked to how you like it. Medium-well took about 20 minutes in a hot oven. (I don't really have a preference for meat...just as long as it's not ridiculously rare).
Let it rest for a few minutes then slice and serve on top of salad.
Top with the spiced yoghurt and enjoy.