One of those posts which don't tell you all that much. Except... "Go on, give it a go!" If you do, there is a strong chance that you'll want to acknowledge the ensuing delight by altering your will in my favour. Please be assured that I would consider that thanks enough for my small efforts here...
What follows is a run-down of the elements which made up a recent 'main' which we shared with friends. Choosing some of these dishes and leaving others until another time is fine. And some of you will want to accompany the lamb with your own ideas. Suggestions remain just that.
The star of the show was Tom Kerridge's 'Madras-spiced lamb shoulder with sweet-and-sour mango salsa'. As usual, my lovely local butcher, Brown's Family Butchers, supplied a handsome hunk of goodness... just shy of three and a half kilograms. Here it is waiting to be taken to spice heaven.
The marinade paste was set to do its job. Time to think about some appropriate 'sides'.
Madras-spiced suggests the south of India (now Chennai) but the lamb pulled my thoughts more to the Middle East for things to serve up alongside. A bit of collaboration with Mrs. Cheoff led to her coming up with Nigel Slater's ‘Jewelled couscous’. We discarded pomegranates for our bowl but a rosy tinge to the plated version will be explained before I've finished. Ah, yes... those are vibrant little parsley flowers garnishing this dish.
No recipe offered for Tzatziki. I used Greek yogurt, chunky cucumber and mint. Send out for garlic or lemon juice as well if you prefer. I simply wanted some cool, creamy freshness to cut back the heat of spices.
The lamb was given an extra hour of slow cooking with a couple of glasses of water added along the way. I'd somehow strained my left thumb which made it a heavy challenge to remove from the oven. However, there were no falls, the meat had submitted... and would prove to be a complete knockout.
The tender meat was pulled from the bones and roughly torn to be warmed for our meal.
Our penultimate offering would be something to mop up those juices. Jamie Oliver's recipe for 'Easy flatbreads' is a regular standby but I had become a little fed up with the tendency for our griddle pan to exude fumes acrid enough to guarantee regular tea-towel flapping at the smoke alarm. This time I made use of our second wok and slapped the dough into its curves when it was as hot as hellfire. Very effective. More even and faster cooking with just one solitary test for our alarm.
The salsa is already there for you in Chef Kerridge's recipe. The fruity sweetness, tang of pickling and the caress from coriander should not be omitted on any account.
Time to serve. And time to explain that pink tinge to the couscous.
One honoured guest appeared excited by the prospect of such a feast. Perhaps he was about to toast the efforts of the cook. Much of his first glass of Lirac accidentally joined the grains. None of which spoiled anyone's enjoyment of a great combination of flavours capping the end of a wonderful summer day.
It does occur to me that you could finish off the meat on your barbecue to add some even deeper profiles. But reserve some juices for serving to augment those being vaporised over the coals.
As previously stated, these are suggestions. But I'd like to think that there is enough here to get your juices flowing. The aforementioned chefs set me off and perhaps now some of these recipes will be coming out of your own kitchen... soon.
Of course, you'll want mint for the tzatziki... here you are.