Braised Lamb Necks

Whenever I read about lamb necks it’s always that they’re underused and inexpensive. The latter is definitely true which is perfect if you want to eat meat but are on a tight budget. One lamb neck will comfortably feed two people and if you’re clever enough with your accompaniments then you might even squeeze out a bit extra for leftovers.

This recipe calls for very little and is absolutely delicious in the colder winter months. It is a slow braise, so allow plenty of time. We used to eat lots of casseroles when I was little and my Dad always made suet dumplings, which thanks in large part to their stodgy nature, have gone out of fashion. They are, however, the perfect sauce soaker-upper, so if you have the patience and aren’t averse to a few empty calories, then definitely make them for this recipe.

Prep time: 5 hours

Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

1 whole lamb neck

1 onion

1/2 large carrot

6 bay leaves

6 whole coriander seeds

1 handful parsley stalks

1 large sprig of rosemary

olive oil for frying

salt and pepper

1 litre water/stock

1 tbsp red wine

1 tbsp malt vinegar

Method:

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Take a heavy based casserole pot and heat a little olive oil over a medium heat. Roughly chop the onion and carrot and fry gently for a few minutes. Add the lamb neck and brown the meat on all sides. Add in coriander seeds, bay leaves, parsley stalks, rosemary, salt and pepper and fry for a further few minutes. Once the meat is brown and the vegetables have a little bit of colour, add in the water*. Place a lid on the casserole dish and put it in the oven for four hours. If you’re cooking the neck whole, you may want to turn it over after two hours.

Once the meat is tender and falling off the bone gently remove it from the braising liquid and set it aside. Using a fine sieve, strain the braising stock into a saucepan and push the soft onions, carrots and parsley stalks through as well. Stir to combine. Put the pan on over a low-medium heat until the liquid has reduced by half (about 20 minutes). Add in 1tbsp of red wine and 1 tbsp of malt vinegar to round out the flavours. Season to taste. Lamb necks release lots of marrow so you will need to carefully skim any oil from the top of the sauce.

Remove the lamb meat from the bone. Be careful to avoid getting any bones mixed up in the meat as the spinal bones can disintegrate quite easily. Add the meat back into the sauce and heat over a low temperature when you are ready to serve.

I served mine this week with a little salad of crisp roasted taro, sauteed kale and broad beans with a lemon and anchovy vinaigrette.

Delicious additions:

*If you have any, add a touch of dry white wine when deglazing the pan – before you add the water.

Thyme, parsnips, turnips or any root vegetable can be added to the braise.

 Serving suggestions:

Sauteed white cabbage with plenty of garlic and black pepper.

Roquette salad with capers, finely sliced red onions and a red wine vinaigrette.

Thick buttery mashed potatoes with a touch of Parmesan cheese.

Lambnecks

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