[Recipe 2] LAMB, FENNEL and BARLEY SOUP
I’m a bit chuffed with these two recipes. Both boys hoovered them up (although I served my 5-year old’s pita breads differently – see Fussy Child Tips below recipe). First up is Shredded lamb with kisir* and tahini sauce. The lamb is boiled and it’s moist, flavorsome and fantastic. I much prefer it to char-grilled lamb, which can be a tad dry. I’ve based this recipe on traditional Turkish kuzu haslama (boiled lamb). Don’t let the ingredients list spook you. It’s SO easy. Toss a whole leg of lamb into a pot with water, a few spices and vegies and leave it to fend for itself for a couple of hours. The boiled lamb is then shredded and served with kisir*, tahini sauce and pita breads. Yummo.
The excellent bonus with this recipe is that when the lamb is done, you’re left with beautiful home-made lamb stock to set aside for later in the week. Pop the lamb stock in a saucepan, add some of the reserved shredded lamb (see the ♦ orange diamonds in the recipe for the exact quantities), barley and a few vegies and you can conjure up the most beautiful Lamb, fennel and barley soup. The perfect one-pot meal to mop up with crusty bread on a Wintery evening. Melbourne’s weather has been hideous, and the house has become a bit of a soup assembly line lately – this one was the definite winner.
*Kisir is the Turkish version of Middle Eastern tabouli. The main difference between kisir and tabouli (tabouleh) is that kisir has tomato paste and chilli in it. Kisir also has more burghul (bulgur) and less parsley so it’s a little more substantial.
[Recipe 1] Shredded lamb with kisir and tahini sauce
2 kilo (4 lb) leg of lamb, untrimmed, on the bone
4 litres (4.2 quarts) water
2 leeks, chopped
2 brown onions, chopped
4 whole cloves garlic, peeled, halved
3 large carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
12 whole black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks, snapped in half
5 bay leaves
10 parsley stalks (reserved from preparing the kisir)
Tahini sauce or hummus, to serve
Store-bought pita breads, to serve (or try Sawsan’s fab recipe)
1 cup burghul (bulgur)
2½ cups boiling water
1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 roma (or vine-ripened) tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, very finely sliced
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (optional)
1 tablespoon tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1 teaspoon harissa (North African chilli paste)
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Have your butcher cut the lamb leg in half; or alternatively, take a very sharp knife and cut through the lamb leg on two sides until you hit the bone. Place lamb, water, leeks, onions, garlic cloves, carrots, celery, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and parsley stalks in a large stock pot. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the kisir. Place the burghul in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for about 1 hour, until water is absorbed. You can prepare the other ingredients while you wait. Sieve the burghul, pressing down to extract excess water. Place burghul in a large bowl and fluff up with a fork. Add remaining ingredients. Season and gently stir to combine. Set aside.
Remove lamb from stock (including any small pieces that have fallen away from the bone) and transfer to a large plate. Strain lamb stock with a colander into a large pan, and discard vegetables. Strain again with a fine sieve. Allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight. Skim and discard solid fat from top of stock.
♦ Reserve 7 cups lamb stock for the Lamb, fennel and barley soup.
Cut the lamb into chunks, discarding the bone, and shred the meat coarsely with two forks.
♦ Reserve approximately 2 cups of shredded lamb for the Lamb, fennel and barley soup.
Arrange remaining shredded lamb and pita breads on serving platters. Place tahini sauce (or hummus) and kisir in serving bowls; and allow everyone to help themselves.
To vary the kisir, add thinly sliced radishes or cucumber.
Pomegranate molasses and harissa (North African chilli paste) are available from specialist food stores, large supermarkets and Middle-Eastern grocers (such as Gourmet Grocer, A1-bakery, Simon Johnson, Essential Ingredient, Oasis bakery or Manakish).
Burghul (bulgur), or cracked wheat, is available from health food stores and large supermarkets.
Reserved lamb stock can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Reserved shredded lamb can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
When using parsley for other recipes, freeze the stalks instead of tossing them. They’re excellent in stock, and can also be used in sweet tomato pasta sauce.
BABY TIP: If you have a baby in the house, don’t discard the vegetables from the lamb stock. The celery and carrot can be puréed, with a little of the shredded lamb, so baby can join in on the feast!
FUSSY CHILD TIP: If your kids aren’t keen on kisir, serve their lamb with pita bread, diced avocado, sliced cucumber and lettuce instead.
[Recipe 2] Lamb, fennel and barley soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 parsnips, finely chopped
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
♦ 7 cups reserved lamb stock
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1½ cups (375ml) red wine
½ cup (125g) pearl barley, soaked at least 6 hours, drained
4 tablespoons tomato paste
♦ 2 cups reserved shredded lamb
3 cups (100g) baby spinach leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, parsnip, fennel and garlic; and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
♦ Add the reserved lamb stock and stir well.
Add the rosemary, wine, barley and tomato paste and stir to combine.
♦ Add the reserved shredded lamb.
Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 1 hour. Add spinach and stir until wilted.
Season. Serve, scattered with parsley.
If using fresh reserved lamb stock (not frozen); the Lamb, fennel and barley soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. It can also be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
I’m no expert, but according to my extensive web-surfing it’s safe to serve properly-prepared meals cooked with wine (or beer) to children over 2 years old. This dish is cooked long enough for the alcohol to evaporate, leaving only harmless trace residues and the rich, concentrated flavour of the wine. I prefer to cook with organic wine as it contains less sulfites and the grapes are of course grown without nasty pesticides.