Waiter There's Something In My....Stew

So, it would appear that January is the month for Stew cooking events. Not only is there one being held by Andrew at Spittoon Extra but my friend Shaun at Winter Skies, Kitchen Aglow is the benevolent host for the 12th Weekend Cookbook Challenge!
I always lose out aesthetically on these competitions because I am a SLR photographer at heart and find digital an awkward medium to mix with at dinner parties. However, my husband has encouraged me to keep taking photos of the food I prepare, if only for the sake of posterity, i.e. "remember that meal....no? Well, take a lookie here...." etc.
Here then is our Friday Night Supper, prepared with the kind assistance of Jack Daniels and a couple of dogs who enjoy the smell of lamb cooking.
The recipe is a "made up as you go along" deal. I spent a good portion of the working day scanning Lamb Shank recipes and, taking a pinch here and a teaspoonful there (I heavily altered a recipe from Nigella Bites using Red Lentils), I came up with this: Lamb Shanks with Pearl Barley and Rioja. In fact, this was the first time I had ever cooked Lamb Shanks full stop. I can confirm, here, in writing, that they were entirely successful! Simmered at low heat in the oven in their red wine bath, nestled alongside carrots, celery, onions and some unpeeled garlic, they tenderised to almost the point of collapse. Finally swathed in creamy pearl barley they were almost ready to go to the ball...
Ok, enough metaphors. I served them with Pauls twice blue mashed potato: a vintage breed of potato that is blue to the very core (peeling them is very disconcerting - where do the eyes start and the potato actually begin?) and curiously they turned the boiling water green. Still, they remained blue throughout boiling and throughout mashing, the second blue element coming from a judicial sprinkling of Dolcelatte Blue Cheese and they were the perfect, gentle foil for the rich, rich lamb.
Not a glamourous meal by any stretch of the imagination but suitably fitting for these winter days.


Kathryn said...

Who wants glamour when they could have stew? Mmm, this looks delicious. I love the blue mash - they sell blue potatoes at the farm shop near us, haven't tried them yet though. Am obsessed currently with Yukon gold and with Pink Fir Apple. But your blue pic inspires me. And the shanks look divine. Is this the time to dare admit I've never ever eaten pearl barley?? Is it like lentils? I love pulses, but pearl barley always sounded too old for me. Tell mw!

Mmm. I am thinking I could pop round for your leftover stew and some Sachertorte. Shame we are so far apart!!!

Kathryn x

Andrew said...

HAd did you get the potatoes to stay blue? I've had some in the recent past that just went to normal potato colour when cooking; very disappointing.

Waiter There Is.. is not really a photo competition (although hunger-inducing images such as yours are important) it is more a 'here is the theme so what do you suggest' type of event.

Thanks for taking part; I am very tempted to scrap my original idea and do somethign similar with lamb shanks (which i love!)


FreyaE said...

Hi Kathryn! I am trying to get ahold of some Yukon Gold with no luck around here so far, I've read great reviews of their 'old-fashioned' flavour. Maybe they'll work their way down south eventually...perhaps I'll have to grow my own!! Sorry but there were no leftovers from the stew, although there is still at least half the cake left! Pearl barley isn't really like lentils, more like risotto rice but more puffy and creamy with a slightly nutty taste. Dirt cheap and very filling, my mother has always put it in stews so thats probably why I still love it! You don't need much of it though, it will soak up ALL of your stew gravy otherwise!

Andrew, there are two types of 'blue' potato that I've come across: the Shetland Black which have a very dark, shiny skin but are creamy inside with blue striation, these look pretty much like regular potatoes when cooked other than the faint blue lines. The Salad Blue on the other hand, look pretty similar externally to the Shetlands but when peeled and cut resemble the cross section of an internal organ, purpley blue with white mottling. As you can see, they definitely retained they colour!

Freya x

Kathryn said...

A local farm shop has Yukon gold and Salad Blue, amongst others (La Ratte... and others) but hadn't tried the blue ones. They look so funny on the plate. I think I associate pearl barley with old ladies, for some reason, so seeing you cook it has changed my mind!

Kathryn x

Ros said...

I've never even SEEN blue potatoes before! Salad blue, you say? I'm going to go find some!

You got going with the competition quickly! I wish I was that organised - I can see myself huriedly writing up something on the Sunday morning.

FreyaE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FreyaE said...

Hi Ros! THe blue potatoes look a bit disconcerting but they do taste great and are certainly a talking point at the dinner table! I look forward to seeing everyone elses' entries!

Shaun said...

Freya - First I must allay your fear; the WCC is not a competition, so there is no winner and no last place. And even if it were a competition, you'd do great. I was salivating at the sight of those gorgeous shanks! And Eric immediately ran over to the computer screen when he caught sight of them from a distance, too. I bet they were so tasty.

Sara said...

Freya, what a beautiful dish! I love purple potatos, but we don't get them often. Thanks so much for joining us this month at WCC!

Andrew said...

Thanks for taking part Freya - I am just collating all the entries into a post.

Jeanne said...

"Dogs who enjoy the smell of lamb cooking" - hahaha! Not sure if there are any that don't! Your stew looks fabulous - meat on the bone cooked till it falls off the bone is one of my all-time favourite things. Add pearl barley and wine to the mix and I'm in heaven! Hope to see you again at next month's WTSIM :)