Stamna-Baked Lamb with Aubergines

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Preparation info

  • For

    6

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

Meat and vegetable dishes that are slow-cooked in earthenware pots are common throughout the Eastern Mediterranean region and across North Africa. The techniques are basic, eschewing preliminary frying. The pots, which are usually glazed inside but unglazed without, have different names - stamna in Greece, tagine in Morocco, and so on. We all have a tendency to fall into a sort of automatic pilot when we cook a certain type of dish we know well. Thus, when making a stew we start by frying the onions and garlic in oil, season, flour and brown the meat and add similar bouquet garnis as a standard procedure. There is a lot to be said for making a conscious decision to break these patterns on occasions, and this simple lamb and aubergine dish is a good place to start.

Ingredients

  • 900 g/2 lb lamb neck fillet
  • 2 hot red chillies
  • 675 g/ lb onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 5 cm/2 in piece of root ginger
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 10 rosemary leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150 ml/5 fl oz olive oil
  • 3 red sweet peppers
  • 225 g/8 oz potatoes
  • 450 g/1 lb small aubergines
  • 450 g/1 lb tinned chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper

For the Garnish

  • handful of coriander leaves
  • handful of flat-leaf parsley

Method

Preparation

At least 5 or 6 hours before serving: cut the lamb into 5 cm/2 in cubes and put into a bowl. Deseed the chillies, cut the flesh into thin strips and scatter them over the lamb. Peel and thinly slice the onions. Peel the garlic and cut into paper-thin slices. Peel the ginger and cut it into julienne strips. Sprinkle all these over, together with the oregano, rosemary leaves and crumbled bay leaf. Grind about 1 teaspoon of black pepper over all. Pour over the olive oil and turn to coat and mix. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate at room temperature for 3 hours.

Holding point - you can prepare the dish to this point and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours but, if you do, remember to bring it to room temperature at least 2 hours before cooking because the olive oil will set in the refrigerator and not work as an effective marinade.

When ready to cook: preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas6. Char the peppers over an open flame until blistered, then put in a covered bowl for the skins to steam loose. Peel, deseed and cut the flesh into strips. Add to the meat.

Peel and cut the potatoes into 2.5 cm/1 in cubes. Cut the aubergines into cubes the same size. Stir the potato and aubergine cubes into the meat, together with the chopped tomatoes with their liquid. Season with salt. Transfer to a casserole into which all the ingredients will just fit and cover with the lid.

Cooking

Bake for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 160°C/325°F/gas3 and continue to cook for a further 1½ hours, checking from time to time that it is not drying out. If it does, add a ladleful of water, but this should not be necessary.

Remove from the oven and try a piece of the meat; it should be meltingly tender and moist. If necessary, cook a little longer and add more salt if you think it needs it.

Serving

Serve in bowls, scattered with whole coriander and parsley leaves.

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