Thu 03 Jan 2013

Food Without Fuss: Cupboard Love


This recipe, while hopefully of use and interest to all, was written with the January 2013 selections of The Society’s Wine Without Fuss subscription scheme particularly in mind. Voted Best Wine Club by Which? Magazine, Wine Without Fuss offers regular selections of delicious wines with the minimum of fuss. Why not join the growing band of members who let their Society take the strain, and are regularly glad they do?

Janet Wynne Evans

Janet Wynne Evans

When it’s not so much the wolf at the door but a 10-foot snowdrift, a howling gale or more of the elemental stair-rods for which 2012 will be remembered, it’s good to have a full freezer, a well-stocked larder and a wine rack to match. A subscription to Wine Without Fuss effortlessly takes care of the latter, and marshalling the solids isn’t that taxing.

First turn out your glory hole (we all have them) and deal promptly with any item that is perilously close to what I like to call its ‘Think! Window’. You’ll end up with some unorthodox but tasty meals, some of which can be deep-frozen, ready for when you (or the roads) are. The space thus liberated can then be filled with fresh stocks of ready-roasted Mediterranean vegetables in oil, cans of tomatoes and pulses, coconut milk, fresh whole spices (few things are blander than powdered ginger that has lost its mojo), nuts, good-quality dark and white chocolate, dried fruit and any other good things that don’t need refrigeration.

The dish below is the result of just such an exercise. All I had to buy was some fresh coriander and the lamb, which, with better planning, I could have taken from the freezer or done without altogether (see below). Depending on the amount of chilli or harissa added, it’s surprisingly white-wine friendly as are many middle-eastern delights, and any number of our New Year Wines Without Fuss work well. Both Adega de Pegões Colheita Seleccionada and Marqués de Alella in the Buyers’ Everyday Selection have a subtly sweet edge that match the spices well, while the top match among the reds is the obvious one – McWilliam’s Select Series Shiraz-Cabernet. In the Premium Selection, we especially liked de Martino Legado Carmenère for its rich, dark appeal, and surprisingly – or perhaps not, given the concentration Trimbach pack into every bottle – Pinot Blanc stepped successfully into a role more usually given to gewurztraminer. Among the Buyers’ French Classics two matches stood out, both from the Rhône – Delas’ stalwart Crozes Hermitage Les Launes and Vacqueyras Blanc from Clos des Cazaux.

Serves 4
(For a sumptuous meat-free version of this recipe, replace the lamb with bottled flame-roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes. You’ll need less oil, and the cooking time can be reduced by half an hour though don’t be tempted to rush it.)

750g boneless leg of lamb, cubed
1 large red onion, peeled and finely sliced
A jar grilled or roasted aubergines in oil, about 250g after thorough draining
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
250ml fruity red wine
A bunch of coriander, leaves and stalks separated and both finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon ras-el-hanout
A small pinch of dried chillis, seeds removed or not, to taste
1–2 cinnamon sticks
2 x 410g cans cooked chickpeas, about 250g after rinsing and draining
A handful of slivered almonds, gently toasted
Rose harissa, to taste (gingerly!)

Heat the oil in the base of a tagine dish or flameproof casserole. Brown the lamb in batches and drain on kitchen paper. Throw in the onions, reduce the heat a little and let them sweat for about 10 minutes. Return the lamb to the pan and add the drained aubergines and the tomatoes, along with the coriander stalks and the spices. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil. Let it bubble vigorously for a couple of minutes. Cover, lower the heat to a simmer and leave for an hour. Check liquid levels from time to time and add a little more wine and a splash of water if needed.

Next, carefully remove the lid, wearing an oven glove to protect your hands. Add the chickpeas and the coriander leaves. Continue to simmer for half an hour. The meat should be just tender. Finally, taste and season. If you want more heat, add it in a controlled way by serving the harissa alongside, noting that the more you add, the less wine-friendly the dish will be. Stir well, replace the lid and keep warm on a hot tray, or a low oven until you are ready to eat. Before dishing up, sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Serve with a crunchy winter salad.

Janet Wynne Evans
Specialist Wine Manager

Categories : Wine Without Fuss


  1. David Ellis says:

    What a good idea to issue recipes to go with the wines. I am fond of tagines and a little harissa will make this a good winter warmer. I am eager to try it.
    Thank you, Janet.

  2. Mike Wyatt says:

    Tagines are a great choice for vegetarians like my wife and myself – I liked Janet’s lamb alternatives but may I suggest smoked tofu? This adds texture, flavour and all-important protein (often overlooked in veggie recipes). I’m sure it will work with Janet’s wine choices, too.

  3. Philip Boughen says:

    NOW Janet ! Read your Tagine recipe with interest but, as a mere man, I’m not too sure what a ‘small pinch’ of dried chillies should look like. In ‘spoon speak’ would this be around half a flat teaspoon ?
    I had the pleasure of discussing recipes with you at one of the tasting evenings a year or so ago, when you kindly introduced me to a couple of interesting wines in the cellars. So glad you are continuing with your recipes, which looked like disappearing from the Newsletter at the time we last met.

    • Janet Wynne Evans says:

      Fair point Mr Boughen. Given the variations in finger and thumb size, chilli strength and in human tolerance levels, a “pinch” is a bit vague.

      For me, the point about tagine is the sweet heat that comes from the cinnamon rather than the brashness of chilli, which should be a background buzz. To achieve that, I’d use either half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (which seem to have a higher ratio of skin to seeds), two little dried bird’s eye chilles, one whole, the other slit and deseeded (and don’t forget to fish them out before serving to your guests) or half a small fresh red chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped. If you find you have been too cautious, and your tagine is a bit tame, the rose harissa in the recipe, or a drop of chilli-infused oil will pep things up but dispense with caution. Once it’s in, there’s no going back!

  4. Dr. M. Parkes says:

    Or try it with goatmeat.
    Available from:
    Tel 01829 260437

  5. Christine says:

    Sitting in the glorious sunshine in New Zealand and having just caught beautiful snapper, I am swapping the lamb for fish and reducing the cooking time then adding the fish 10 mins before serving! Sorry about your snow drifts!

  6. Martin Cumberworth says:

    Whilst I am sure that Janet is entirely innocent in her use of the term “glory hole” she (and the editor!) should be aware of the modern vernacular! A quick google search will reveal that nowadays the term is vulgar sexual slang referring to a place where people go to perform anonymous sex acts with strangers in places like public toilets.
    I sincerely hope this image doesn’t detract from the deliciousness of the tagine!

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