Thu 02 Nov 2017

Food Without Fuss: Harissa Lamb – The Spice of Wife!

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This recipe, while hopefully of use and interest to all, was written with the latest selections of our much-loved Wine Without Fuss subscription scheme particularly in mind.

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My significantly better half swears by the 5:2 diet, and to be fair to her it is the one she has stuck to through thick and, ahem, thin. Fundamentally, the diet proposes an element of fasting and the victim – I mean weight watcher – can eat largely what they like for five days out of seven but must stick to no more than 500 calories on each of any two days in the week, ideally not one after the other.

I can’t say that I am a convert for the simple fact that I am, not to put too fine a point on it, a glutton, but even I know that it would be desperately unfair, not to say dastardly, of me to cook myself something sumptuous and hedonistic for supper and sit there scoffing with a glass of wine as she sits across the dining table from me with her evening portion of 300-calorie, low-fat fare and a glass of tap.

Fortunately she has been at the diet long enough that, while we still experiment widely in search of dishes we both find satisfying and interesting but which fall within the calorific strait-jacket of the 5:2, we have now developed a repertoire of recipes which we both enjoy very much and return to regularly.

The recipe I give below is just such a dish. It is a slight adaptation of one by Kate Matharu featured on the Prima magazine website in January 2015, where my obviously svelte and healthy other half tracked it down. It is simplicity itself to put together and well worth the minimal effort. We’ve eaten it more times than you’ve had hot 5:2 dinners. You needn’t have it as it is here in its more saintly form, so accompany it with a bushel of something starchy like rice, cous cous or warm flatbreads of the fluffiest variety.

Steve Farrow

Harissa Lamb Mince (Serves four)

Harissa, for the uninitiated, is something to get initiated into immediately. It is a spicy, probably leaning towards the fiery, paste that glows almost atomically orangey red and is vibrant, fragrant and moreish, not to mention Moorish. A wonderful North African amalgam of peppers, dried red chillies, tomato purée, caraway or fennel seeds, ground cumin and coriander seeds, garlic, salt and olive oil, all ground to a paste (but not in its best form a purée), it will lift almost anything you spread it on or in with its kick and aromatic savour. It is easy to make it yourself but can be just as easily bought in jars and even tubes, though the jars are much better and easily available. If you ever find that you have promised to eat your hat, this is the stuff to spread over it to make it interesting!

Ingredients:
• 250g pack of green beans, sliced into three pieces
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1 tsp each of cinnamon, allspice, cumin and ground nutmeg
• 400g/14oz lamb mince (you can use any mince you like, including quorn, but lamb is by far and away the best)
• 250g pack cherry tomatoes, halved
• 4 tsp ready-bought harissa (use more if you like it hot)
• Handful of pine nuts, toasted

Add green beans to a pan of boiling, salted water and cook for about 4 mins until just tender. Drain and put to one side.

Heat oil in a frying pan, add onion, season and cook for 1-2 mins until soft, then stir through garlic and dried spices and cook for a further minute. Add mince and stir, and cook for about 6-8 mins until mince is no longer pink and is cooked through.

Stir through the tomatoes and half of the ready-bought harissa, and continue cooking until tomatoes stew down and begin to split. Add the green beans, then taste and season if needed.

Serve in bowls and top with more harissa if you have any, and the pine nuts. I always ensure that I have enough harissa for a good dollop on top of my serving, it’s so good! Serve with crusty bread, rice, cous cous, Lebanese flat breads or toasted pitta… indeed anything else that takes your fancy.

Wine matches:
Wash it down with the deeply fruity and perfectly spicy Billi Billi Grampians Shiraz 2013 (Worldwide Wonders Plan or available online for £9.50) for a lovely marriage.

The Bleasdale HMS Buffalo Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, Langhorne Creek 2015 (Wine Rack Essentials Plan or £7.25) and Domaine de Gournier Cévennes Rouge 2016 (Discovery Plan or £6.75) also have bags of fruit to swim safely with the spice.

Frappato di Sicilia, Nicosia 2016 (Lighter Wines Plan or £9.50) is a Sicilian charmer with an abundance of freshness and fruit to counter the warmth and fragrance of harissa, as does much Sicilian wine, steeped as it is in the spicing and aromas of the North African influence on the island’s cooking. The naturally juicy berry fruit Corbières, Le Hameau des Ollieux Nature Romanis 2016 (Worldwide Wonders or £10.50) is also perfect for the spice to nuzzle up to.

If you prefer white wines you will find a good and refreshing match for the spice in the Gewurztraminer, Cave de Turckheim 2016 (Worldwide Wonders or £9.50).

Categories : Wine Without Fuss

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