Easter is just around the corner now and many of you are no doubt plotting and scheming activities for the extended break. Be it hopping up to the coast for the day or say, nipping off to the countryside for some camping. Before scurrying immediately back home because the heavens have decided to open up and someone forgot to pack the wellies and waterproofs.
Yes, the first Bank Holiday of the year does always come as a bit of gamble weatherwise. And you never are totally sure how it's going to pan out. Or who is going to get the blame for suggesting outdoor pursuits in the first place.
Of course, whatever you get up to, lamb must feature at some point in proceedings. Come rain or shine, at Easter, it must be done.
It's the rules, as it were.
So to tempt you, we've got a smasher of a recipe to share, by Mr Richard H. Turner himself. Using lamb shoulder on this occasion, this really is a great, no-nonsense approach. Balancing a combination of earthy and sweet flavours, with a decadent hit of umami and butter that comes from the wet polenta, this is the perfect meal to get all set up, before heading out for a walk on a Sunday morning.
Fingers crossed it will be shorts and flip flops weather. But if you do wander back through the door, with water dripping off your nose, this braised lamb will warm you up in no time at all.
Might be a good idea to get a few more bottles of Chianti in too.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Put the morels in a small bowl, cover with 150ml boiling water and leave to soak.
- Season the lamb well with salt and pepper. Heat a flameproof casserole, then add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the lamb and sear on all sides. When browned, remove and set aside.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the casserole with the celery, garlic, and onions. Cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are softened.
- Remove the soaked mushrooms and add to the pan. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine sieve (to ensure there is no grit) into the casserole. Boil to reduce the liquid by half, then add the chopped tomatoes and wine. Bring to a simmer.
- Return the lamb to the casserole. Cover with a lid and place in the oven to cook for 2 hours, until the sauce is thick and the lamb is tender.
- For the polenta, bring the water to a simmer, add salt, whisk in the polenta and cook, stirring, on a low heat for 10 minutes or until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan. Add the goat butter and Pecorino cheese and stir vigorously.
- Check the seasoning before serving hot, atop the wet polenta, garnished with the hot asparagus and wild garlic leaves.