Braised lamb necks, pearl onions and garlic
This is a classic braise that delivers very tasty and tender lamb with the punctuation of garlic and onions. By boiling the garlic twice and cooking until tender you remove the volatile compounds that give a harsh taste, creating a rich, delicious, complex flavour. I use garlic like this in many dishes; once you have tried it, you will, too.
Serve the braise with soft polenta, a short pasta or rice. Photo: William Meppem
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3 tbsp olive oil
1kg lamb neck, boned and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 5mm pieces
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 5mm dice
2 tbsp plain flour
*20 cloves garlic, peeled and brought to the boil in salted cold water twice, then simmered until tender
1 large tomato, unpeeled and chopped into large chunks
3 cups chicken stock
freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp butter
250g pearl onions, stems trimmed, peeled but left whole, simmered in salted water for 15 minutes, refreshed
1 tsp superfine castor sugar
2 tbsp aged, good-quality red wine vinegar
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
*Tip: Garlic simmered this way is great pureed, seasoned and spread on toast.
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over high heat for a minute. Add the meat and brown for five minutes. Add the diced carrots and onions, turn the heat to low and cook for five minutes, stirring until the vegetables soften a bit.
2. Sprinkle flour over the meat and stir, then cook for about two minutes until the vegetables are lightly coloured. Add the tomato and stock to cover.
3. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Remove any foam that forms on the surface. Add two teaspoons of sea salt and cover. Lower the heat so the mixture simmers gently and cook for about an hour, until tender.
4. In the meantime, melt the butter in a saute pan. Add the small onions and castor sugar, caramelise and remove from heat.
5. When the lamb has cooked for an hour, take the pot off the heat. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon or skimmer and put it in a large bowl. Bring the pot to the boil and simmer until a sauce forms, add back the lamb, garlic and onions and stir through until warm. Check the seasoning, add a good grind of pepper and the vinegar, sprinkle with parsley and spoon the braise into four deep bowls.
Serving suggestion: This braise is perfect with soft polenta, or a short pasta, or served with rice. In each case I'd have a well-dressed green salad on the side.