19 January 2012

Free food Lamb Ragout

I'm living in employer-provided accommodation, and remembering how flaky and unreliable electric cooktops and ovens are!
The kind person who lived here before me left me a bunch of food on our contract changeover, including vac-packed gnocchi (which I had never cooked with before) and a frozen tray of leg lamb steaks.
Having recently eaten a modest/shared serve of very delicious ragout at a Tapas-style hipster caf on a short holiday, I had a hankering for more and was happy to use up the mysterious free food in the flat on my return as it was all too hard to go to the grocery shop.

Ragout is so yummy and restaurant-y, but I have worked out (see also Roo Ragoo) it is basically a case of:
brown the meat in olive oil in a hot pan (seasoned with flour/salt/pepper or not) & remove from pan;
add new oil and onion/garlic/herbs/spices to the pan, then vegies & re-add the meat;
then smother with a tin of tomatoes, tomato paste, stock (chicken, beef or vegie) & wine; bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for at least 2 but ideally 3 hours.
There is a flurry of activity at the start, but then you can just sit back, enjoy the soothing sounds & smells of simmering whilst watching TV/drinking/socialising etc...

I had the leg lamb steaks (mostly thawed), which I browned. I left them in the pan due to a minimalist accompaniment of half a large jar of kalamata olives (drained and rinsed) which I then added over the lamb. I seasoned with HEAPS of black cracked pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, some wilted rosemary sprigs found in the back of the fridge, powdered garlic, powdered ginger and a sprinkle of chili flakes and salt. Then in went a tin of diced tomatoes, 2x 50g sachets of tomato paste and a 250mL box of pre-made chicken stock. I added a small dash of balsamic vinegar and a splash of worchestershire sauce (another freebie) to add some oomph. I sadly did not have any wine or onions, which made me nervous as these have always been a mainstay in the past (of my pantry and my ragout). It was all brought to the boil (the high setting on the stove is like HADES! bubbling cauldron of doom!), then down to a happy simmer, lid half on.

I watched telly, unpacked my suitcase, did a load of laundry, watched more telly, played on the internet, watched more telly... I think in total I had simmered it for almost two hours when I realised the whole steaks, maybe from being frozen prior, were not really flaking and falling apart as I had expected. I took the meat out of the pan and cut it into chunks then flaked/shredded with a fork and returned it to the liquid to continue. I think just before the three hour mark I got hungry, so I boiled up the gnocchi, which was quite a fun experience - add to boiling water then skim them off as they float to the top like a triumphant "ta da! I'm done!".

It was actually quite delicious, if not a tad light on vegetable matter. I pre-made serves in takeaway boxes of gnocchi plus ragout and I am pleased to say it lasts well and microwaves well too. My only problem was that that first night when it was fresh made I was hungry, it was yummy and I ate two HUGE serves, so didn't quite have enough left to last my next stretch of shifts. Not really a negative, a positive for taste I suppose. I'm very happy at being introduced to this instant gnocchi concept. I'll definitely try another version again!

No comments:

Post a Comment