Lamb with a Lesson

Lamb and feta with Greek salad

Sod the dirt and feed them well. Behold my latest life lesson, learned the hard way this weekend.It started with a dream. A dream I have of running a household where anyone can drop in at any time. Which they do, because they know they can relax and they will always be fed something delicious. In this dream, the cake box is never empty, and the fridge has tasty left-overs for snacks. Dinners are plentiful, and unexpected guests can join at a moment’s notice.

Reality is different. Cakes get eaten, and big dinners yield too-full bellies rather than yummy left-overs. Also, my house isn’t always quite, shall we say, ready for external scrutiny. This weekend, reality hit with a vengeance.

“Hey babe. We finished our dive, and I’ll be home in 30 minutes or so.”

“Great, I’ll get dinner started.”

“Oh, and hon? I am bringing J. Is that okay?”

You what?

I didn’t want to betray the dream and say “no”, but holy canoodle. Company? In half an hour?

Those were some of the sweatiest 30 minutes of my life. Cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, loading the dish washer and hiding  laundry under the duvet. (Clean. Really. There might have been an errant dirty sock, but I will admit to nothing in public.)

I was just kicking the last few dust bunnies under the sofa when the man buzzed up. “Should we get some more food for dinner?” Oi. In my cleaning frenzy, I hadn’t actually thought of food yet. There was lamb marinating and it might have been enough for three, but our guest has a legendary appetite so I didn’t dare risk it. “No, no. Come up, have a beer and then we’ll grab a bite around the corner.” Which is how the dream shattered and the lesson started.

The pub we ended up in served decidedly mediocre food. With every bland bite I took, I ached more and more for the lamb in my fridge. Rightly so, because we ate it the next day and it was bright and punchy, with lots of garlic, oregano and lemon juice. The sweet lamb meat was a little chewy, a little tender and a lot tasty. Paired with a Greekish salad (like Nigella Lawson’s, but with cucumber), it was a dinner fit for dreams. Unlike the one we were having. When we got back up for coffee, the dust bunnies had escaped from under the couch and were lolling around, some right under J.’s nose. He never noticed, too busy guzzling coffee and talking diving gear maintenance.

Right. No lamb, and lots of sweaty work wasted on a man who couldn’t have cared less. Next time, I’ll know to prioritise the right bit of the dream. Sod the dirt, and feed them well. 

Lamb and feta 

Based on a recipe in Good Cooking by Jill Dupleix

Serves 2

500 gr lamb, tender enough to not need stewing

50 gr feta, crumbled

1 tsp dried oregano

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt and pepper

Cut the meat into uneven pieces. Mix the oregano, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper into a marinade. Cover the meat with it and leave for at least an hour (overnight is great, I can tell you from experience).

Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan until quite hot. Add the meat, and quickly sear on all sides. Divide over two plates and scatter over crumbled feta. Serve.

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2 Comments

Filed under Meat

2 responses to “Lamb with a Lesson

  1. Manon

    Lamb sure does look delicious! But you’re sure about j actually noticing the quality of the food in the cafe (and not just the amount)? I mean, hey, he will distinguish between ok and real good, but then, does he actually mind in good company, and does he NOTICE?

    however, some tricks from when i feel like a natural housewife: make sure you pack your freezer with good stuff for a meal anytime; have some halfbaked breads ready (quick way for making meals more filling and they keep very long) & fresh herbs make every leftover look nicer.

    not sure whether this helps, but as long as j keeps turning up, you know you didn’t ruin anything except your dreams.

  2. Bart

    Lamb is a somewhat acquired taste.
    Here is my “Howto feed a lamb to a dummy” 🙂

    Lamb and prune tagine

    Preparation time: 15 minutes
    Cooking time: 2 hours

    Ingredients (for 6 people):
    1.2kg shoulder of lamb, cut into small pieces
    400g prunes
    100g blanched almonds
    2 large onions
    1 stick cinnamon
    1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
    3 tablespoons honey
    ½ teaspoon turmeric
    3 tablespoons oil
    1 teaspoon pepper
    Salt

    Method:
    Peel and slice onions.

    In a large pan, saute onions in 2 tablespoons oil for about 3 minutes, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon.

    Add meat, cinnamon stick, turmeric and pepper, stir carefully.

    Add 400ml water, bring to boil, then cover, lower heat and leave to simmer for at least an hour. Salt.

    Wash prunes and add to dish. Leave to cook over a low heat for 30 minutes.

    Mix honey and powdered cinnamon together, pour into pan and leave for another 15 minutes. Stir well, but do not cover.

    Heat the rest of the oil in another pan, then saute almonds for a few minutes, over a high heat.

    Serve tagine piping hot and sprinkled with almonds, with couscous in a separate serving dish.

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