Globe Artichoke Vegetable Braise and Lamb Neck fillets

  • Time: One and a half hours
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: medium

Part of a sequence of recipes featuring the combination of artichokes and lamb. This recipe is all about slow cooking. The lamb is cooked separately from the vegetables because they are quite delicious as they are, but serving with tender lamb takes the recipe up a notch.

A great recipe for artichokes and lamb.

What you need

3 large globe artichokes or four smaller globe artichokes (a bit past their prime)

2 large lamb neck fillets

1 large onion

3 garlic cloves

2 sticks of celery (optional)

800g Jersey Royal potatoes

4 medium courgettes

500g fresh broad beans in pods

3 heritage green, yellow or orange tomatoes

4 bay leaves

1 tsp dried oregano

Extra virgin olive oil

Large handful fresh chopped parsley

Chopped fresh mint from about 4 or 5 sprigs

Lemons

 

 

 



How Dad Cooked It

This is a wonderful recipe. Not at all as heavy as it might seem – in fact it actually feels quite light and summery. We had it on a very hot night and surprisingly did not eat the side salad. In this sense it felt very Italian, we ate a bit later and all that was needed to finish the evening was a passeggiata along the Thames.

The recipe is a blend of several cooking ideas, most of them Italian. The first is the slow cooking of vegetables in good olive oil and water. It is similar to a ‘vignole’ which Giorgio Locatelli’s mother would make in spring when the broad beans, peas and artichokes are young – she added mint to her spring stew. Rachel Roddy in her Guardian articles describes cooking courgettes in a similar way, many of her influencers say to cook the courgettes until they fall apart – but I think you still get the idea if the braise is taken off the heat before everything collapses. Stewing the artichokes in oil and water is a classic Tuscan recipe, which I have found in many of my older paperbacks (Elizabeth David’s Italian food (includes wine with the braise) and leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen by Janet Ross and Michael Waterfield – who say the recipe is one of the finest ways to eat artichokes). Collapsing courgettes also reminds me of a distinctive dish Mrs WDC’s mother and grandmother would cook with marrow (before the time when courgettes were widely available). In their recipe, the marrow is stewed with a few tomatoes, oil and water. The dish may seem a bit bland. But, it is actually very delicious – and interestingly restorative – it is quite possible to eat copious amounts at a single sitting. Stewing potatoes with artichokes is a Greek way to eat artichokes. Finally, artichokes and lamb are splendid partners, a combination I first encountered in Antonio Carluccio’s An Invitation to Italian Cooking.

  1. Prepare the artichokes. I always think it is best to eat a good quality globe artichoke boiled with the leaves dipped in a dressing. But it they are a little past their best they will work fine for this dish. Using a serrated bread knife, carefully cut around the artichoke to remove the outer leaves near the hard base (heart) of the artichoke. Then trim the base flat cutting off the stem and removing the leaves until the heart is exposed. (Don’t overdo this – or dare I say it – under do it). Then cut the top leaves off leaving about 1 cm of leaves near the base. Cut the artichoke heart in half and then thirds. Using a paring knife, carefully cut away the fuzzy choke using one clean movement of the knife. Pull out the choke leaving a couple layers of outside leaf bases. Put the finished pieces in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon. Continue with the remaining artichokes.
  2. Chop the onion finely. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and chop roughly. Chop the celery into small chunks. Cut the courgettes into rounds or angled sections. Peel, scrub or scrape the potatoes and cut in to medium size pieces. Cut the tomatoes into quarters along the length.
  3. Pour a good measure of oil (about 100ml) into heavy-based casserole pan with lid. Heat the oil on a medium high heat and fry the onion, artichokes and celery (if using) for 5 minutes to gently sweat without colouring. Add the garlic and stir cooking for another minute or so. Then add courgettes and potatoes and stir. Add enough boiling water to come half way up the vegetables. Add the oregano and bay leaves and stir. Simmer on a very low heat with the lid slightly ajar for 30 minutes. Then add the parsley, mint and stir then place the tomatoes on the top and continue cooking for up to 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.
  4. Whilst the vegetables are cooking, fry the lamb fillets in light olive oil in a heavy saucepan with lid. Turn the fillets until evenly browned a couple minutes on each side. Then turn the heat down to lowest and partly cover the pan with a lid to slowly braise the lamb. Cook for 30 – 40 minutes until tender. Turn off the heat, drain the juices into a jug, and skim off the fat. Pour the juices over the lamb and rest in the pan with the lid on.
  5. Season the braise with salt and pepper and squeezes of lemon to taste. Place the braise in a large serving dish. Cut the lamb from the end of the fillet at an angle using a very sharp carving knife. Cut the pieces as thin as possible. Put the pieces back in pan with the juices. Warm if necessary. Then serve the lamb either separately or with the vegetables. Serve with good crusty bread and a nice wine.

 

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