A simple, delicious stew that will give you the biggest food hug
I love this aromatic lamb neck and aubergine stew, and so will you.
- SERVES: 4
- PREP TIME: 10 mins
- COOK TIME: 2 – 3 hrs low and slow, hands-off cooking
- DIFFICULTY: easy
- IDEAL FOR: family meal, easy Sunday meal, winter comfort dish
I have to be honest here and put my aubergine cards on the table.
I hate aubergine.
There, I said it.
I love the way it looks.
I can see why it’s been painted, drawn, photographed and made into quirky serving dishes.
But why would you ever want to eat it?!
It’s slippery, soggy, soft, and for what I can work out…
It takes forever to prep with salting and drying and whatever else.
Just to get to the point of cooking.
Now, I say this from many experiences but one which has stuck more recently.
Ben and the aubergine
Our lovely Kiwi nephew came and stay with us in Devon.
He was having a ‘break’ aka escaping his rather dreary (sorry, Ben but I think you’d agree) flat in Bristol.
And it was lovely having Ben stay.
Good chat, he helped out… created music.
However, re-music creation; it did take Ben approx. 3 nights before he realised his headphone jack wasn’t working and we could hear the 3 persistent notes he kept trying to correct.
Painful is the word to describe those 3 evenings, tbh.
But Ben also cooked the odd dish for us.
One day, Ben announced he was going to make us a delicious baguette.
We were delighted as we were working hard in the garden.
We came inside after about an hour, ravenous, wondering when Ben was going to call us in for this baguette.
But to our sinking hearts, we found aubergine, cut into slices, spread across the worksurface with salt sprinkled on them.
To cut a long grumble short… we didn’t eat this aubergine baguette until the following day.
Ben, didn’t mean he was feeding us today as the aubergine prep was key to this baguette.
So, was it worth the 24hr wait?
The aubergine was covered in lovely crunchy panko crumbs and other flavourings.
We couldn’t taste the aubergine.
So, that, is why I don’t like aubergine.
And what is it anyway? Fruit or veggie?
What is aubergine
Technically it’s a fruit.
Or a berry to be exact.
This glossy purple, mild-flavoured, soft-fleshed berry is native to Southeast Asia.
Here in the UK, it’s called aubergine.
But in the US, O, NZ, it’s called an eggplant.
How to cook aubergine
Salting. Apparently, the reason for this is to draw out the bitter flavours of the fruit.
But apparently, now, modern varieties of aubergine are a lot less bitter than they used to be.
Salting does however draw out moisture from the aubergine which makes it firmer and means it will absorb less fat when cooking.
Aubergine can be cooked with or without the skin.
The new love for aubergine
The love isn’t entirely true, EXCEPT… in this aromatic lamb and aubergine stew.
I would go so far as to say, it makes the dish.
Yes, I’m praising the aubergine.
But, honestly, this is a gorgeous dish which I came across in Delicious Magazine.
So, if you hate aubergine, I bet you a fiver, that this dish will change your mind.
Well, at least in this form.
The other part of this dish is the lamb neck.
Inexpensive, lamb neck is a great cut for stews.
Lamb’s neck is one of those really underrated cuts.
However, once you’ve given it a go, there is no turning back.
I’ve used it before in this Lancashire hotpot – delicious!
Lamb’s neck has a richness of flavour that releases through its marbling when cooked low and slow.
Apart from great flavours, lamb neck is relatively cheap so it’s a great choice for lamb without hurting your wallet.
Buying lamb neck
You might find some in your supermarket but more likely in your local butchers.
And by going to your butchers, you can ensure the quality i.e. is it locally farmed, high-welfare, grass-fed (if you can find it), etc.
One fillet usually weighs around 450g–600g so feeds 2–3 people well.
Cooking with lamb neck
Lamb’s neck is a muscle, so if you don’t cook it properly, you’ll end up with a tough piece of meat.
This is why a low and slow cook is often the best option.
And a nice hands-off dish, giving maximum flavour… making you a genius in the kitchen!
Because the cut is smaller compared to other lamb cuts, you can cook between 1.5 hrs – 2 hrs.
This will give you tender meat that falls apart.
Recipe from Delicious Magazine
Aromatic lamb and aubergine stew
- 2 aubergines
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 800 g lamb neck, diced into 4 cm chunks
- 2 red onions, cut into wedges
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, or minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp (heaped) tomato puree
- 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 300 ml beef stock
- 150 g black olives pitted
- fresh coriander or parsley to serve
- Start by topping and tailing the aubergines. Cut into 3cm chunks and put half the olive oil in a large casserole, over medium heat. Add the aubergines and season well, then fry for 8-10 minutes, turning, until golden all over. Remove the aubergines from the pan and set aside.
- Season the lamb chunks well and in the same casserole dish, add the rest of the olive oil, and fry the lamb until golden brown (you may need to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding).Add the onion wedges and garlic once the la,b is browned and turn the heat down. Fry for approx. 5 mins, then add the spices for a minute, then stir in the tomato puree and pomegranate molasses.Cook for a few minutes, then add the stock and fried aubergines and bring to a boil. Once bubbling, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly for approx. 2 – 2.5 hrs or until the lamb is super tender.
- Remove the lid, increase the heat and leave for 10 mins to bubble to thicken to make a rich stew.
- Garnish with fresh parsley or coriander.Serve with rice, couscous, or flatbreads.