I made this dish up the other day on a kind of Moroccan vibe, when I was mucking about with ways of marinating and tenderizing a neck fillet of lamb, which is a really tasty and cheap cut of meat. I trimmed the meat of all sinews, bashed it flat using a rolling pin, and made 2 incisions down the length of each fillet, but not quite to the end, so it looked almost like a tripod. I then marinated it with lots of spices and herbs and plaited it, to give a contrast between crispy and soft meat which I thought would be interesting. You don’t have to plait the meat but it does increase the surface area, meaning the marinade can get right in there. Needless to say, Jools thought I was mucking around with it too much and being very camp — you decide!
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 3-4 small dried chillies
- 1 small bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
- 2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 smallish neck fillets of lamb, prepared as above
- 4 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2.5 cm/1-inch dice
- 2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
- 12 ripe plum tomatoes, each cut into 8 pieces
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 handful of dried apricots
- 285ml/ 1/2 pint boiling water
- 350g/12oz couscous
- A little wine vinegar
- 1 large bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro)
- 4 tablespoons natural yogurt
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Pound up your cumin, coriander and fennel seeds with the dried chillies, rosemary, ginger and a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Smear half of this marinade over your lamb before you plait it. Rub and massage it in, then put the meat to one side while you mix the rest of the marinade in a bowl with the sweet potatoes, onions and garlic.
Brown your 4 marinaded pieces of meat on both sides in a pan with a little olive oil. Add the sweet potato mixture to the pan and remove the lamb to the empty bowl while you fry your veg for about 4 minutes until the onions are slightly soft. Add your tomatoes, give the pan a shake and place the meat on top. Add 3 wineglasses of water, the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and dried apricots, and braise in the preheated oven (I suggest you do this with the lid off to give it a little colour) for 1 hour 15 minutes. Now pour the boiling water over the couscous and allow it to be absorbed. Then fork the couscous through, season with salt, pepper, a lug of olive oil and a swig of wine vinegar, cover with tinfoil and place in the oven for 5 minutes to steam.
Roughly chop the fresh coriander and stir it through the stew just before serving. Divide between 4 plates with the couscous and spoon over a good dollop of natural yogurt.
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and 17.5 oz of neck fillets of lamb.