Weekend Herb Blogging

Because of my intrinsic need for food that makes me feel cosseted and safe, I adore anything that is stew-like. This includes braises, curries, ragus and tagines. Whatever country you happen to be from, you will do a slow cooked rich meat dish that I would probably fall in love with.
Whilst I also long for the spring and consequent summertime, I miss these bolstering, stick to your ribs meals that send you to bed happy, contented and full. So, utilising the ‘winter’ meat that I still have left in the freezer (which includes, mutton, shin of beef pork hocks and sausages), I have been experimenting with ways to, quite conversely really, bring a touch of winter to these warm Spring days, if only for the benefit of our bellies.
A slow cooked dish that I have been thinking about for some time, after reading about it in The Fish Store by Lindsay Bareham, was for shoulder of lamb cooked with saffron and rhubarb. I didn’t have any lamb but I did have a shoulder of mutton in the fridge and several lithe, pink sticks of rhubarb going limp in the fridge.
I have never tried Rhubarb in a savoury dish, but I adore its slightly astringent flavour that is tempered beautifully with gently stewing and a whisper of sugar. It is certainly one of those fruits that would suit a rich, fatty meat like mutton or lamb perfectly.
It couldn’t be simpler to make either. Sweat down a couple of large onions, thinly sliced, in some butter until they start to softly meld with the butter. Add some diced shoulder of mutton or lamb that has been browned in a little oil (this step also helps to rid the mutton of it's excess fat), a good pinch of saffron, grind of pepper, generous squeeze of lemon and simmer slowly for an hour. A wrinkly skin will appear on the top of the mutton stew but don't be tempted to stir this in. This lack of movement is allowing the meat to tenderise completely.
The rhubarb is cut into large chunks and quickly stir fried over a low height with lots of fresh parsley and mint (thus revealing the dish to be Persian in origin) which are then stirred into the stew. Cook until the Rhubarb collapses. Adjust seasoning adding more lemon if needed and some fresh parsley. Serve with plain boiled basmati rice that has tipped into a hot frying pan and the bottom allowed to go crusty.
The final flavour is slightly tart, the fruit is not overpowering and the meat is curiously turned a glorious shade of pink. It is also meltingly tender.
Incidentally, this is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, held this month by Sher over at What Did You Eat? I have been woefully bad at entering in recent weeks so hopefully this will be a return to form.
If you want to recreate this dish in your own kitchen, or, if you share my love of winter food even in the summer, here's how:
3 Large Sticks Rhubarb, cut into 2" Chunks and stripped of stringy bits if necessary
400g Diced Mutton or Lamb, removed of any excess fatty bits
2 Pinches Saffron dissolved in a little boiling water
2 Large Onions, peeled and thinly sliced
Juice of one Lemon
70g Fresh Parsley (flat leaf), chopped finely
Handful of Fresh Mint Leaves, chopped finely (although I didn't have fresh so I used a tablespoon of dried mint)
Salt and Pepper to taste
60g Butter or Olive Oil
In a large stockpot, gently heat a third of the butter or oil and gently cook the onions until they collapse. Don't allow them to colour. These will probably take about 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the meat and using another third of the butter or oil, cook the diced meat in batches until richly coloured and much of the fat has rendered off.
Add the meat to the soft onions and stir in the saffron and water.
Add half the juice of the lemon, a good grind of pepper and bring to the boil.
Immediately turn down to the lowest setting and leave to simmer, without a lid, for an hour.
You can prepare the chopped herbs and trimmed rhubarb whilst you wait.
Finally, add the herbs and rhubarb to the stew, and cook for another 30 minutes or until the rhubarb has collapsed. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice if necessary.
Serve with plain boiled rice.



Lydia said...

Hmmmm, I never think of rhubarb in savory dishes -- always those over-sweet rhubarb pies made by someone who feels the need to overcompensate for the tart rhubarb with too much sugar! This dish looks/sounds wonderful, especially with the fresh mint. Thanks for the recipe.

Ulrike said...

We have rhubarb in the gardens and on farmer's markets now. I always think of compote, when I hear rhubarb. But I should try your recipe, sounds good.

s'kat said...

I'm with you on a full-year appreciation of stews and the like!

Oddly enough, I have never even had rhubarb, only seen it pies and other sweet treatments... very interesting!

Katie said...

I love rhubarb! I like it tart, as well. I usually only use about half the recommended sugar.
I don't often eat mutton but I would think that the rhubarb would cut some of the stong, gamey taste back a bit. It sounds wonderful. I usually avoid fruit (other than lemon)with meat because it's too sweet but this sounds perfect.
Now, if only my rhubarb would grow...

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MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Rhubarb and mint in savory - that sounds wonderfully balanced. I am really excited to try these two together. And I really like the rice gone crusty on the bottom.

Jerry said...

I wish it were easier to get mutton in the States. I'm a huge fan, but it's almost a special order item, and extremely expensive.

Kelly-Jane said...

I've eaten chicken with rhubarb when eating out at some time, and liked it.

Your stew looks delicious, I'm all for year round stews and braises to :)


Brilynn said...

I've been wondering lately about how to use rhubarb in a savoury dish because I still have some in my freezer and the new stuff is starting to come up. This looks great!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Mmmmm, rhubarb in the yard and lamb on my mind. Thanks for the idea. If I don't get to something like this soon, I'm sure Rohan will remind me. Maybe we'll do up a rhubarb night as the strawberries are looking nice too. Thanks for the savory side reminder.

Peabody said...

We don't get a lot of mutton around these parts and I am intrigued by the rhubarb and saffron.

Gattina said...

My landlady (next door only...) grows quite a lot of rhubarb, will ask her to give me some and try on this stew!

Lis said...

I'm with you.. slow cooked meat with veggies and a creamy sauce is pure heaven. This looks delish! I have a silly yank question though.. what's mutton?


T.W. Barritt said...

I've never cooked with rhubarb - but I could eat Lamb stew year round!

Chubbypanda said...

Interesting recipe. Probably tastes a lot like fesanjan made with mutton. Very inventive.

Little Foodie said...

Will try this week, sounds yummy. Stews all year without a doubt! We'll be playing with our burger recipe today as bbq'g.Going totally over the top with a whole chicken, burgers & lots of bits & pieces. What a mix.

Margaret said...

I've got some rhubarb growing in the garden, but have always been reluctant to use it in savoury dishes. Yours looks excellent.

Susan said...

The addition of rhubarb and saffron is brilliant! It must have been a wonderfully fragrant and savory dish.

ros said...

That's a very interesting combination of flavours. I really like the sound of the mint-rhubarb combination but I'd never have thought of putting it with mutton. Definitely sounds like its worth a ttry.

Mallika said...

Yum, This looks fabulous. I'm a big fan of anything that can be cooked in one pot too and only recently tried my hand at tagine.

Sher said...

Good grief! My e-mail is totally screwed up. I never got the e-mail for this, unless I'm really suffering from brain failure! (I've wondered lately!) So sorry. I'll add it immediately!

Kalyn said...

I'm in total agreement with your love of long-cooked dishes like this. Even in summer I love to have something cooking all day, making the house smell good. Very interesting combination in this dish. I like all the components, but haven't seen them used like this. Wish I could taste it!

maltese parakeet said...

oh yum, this looks great. p.s., i love the picture of your dog in your header - it makes me laugh every time! s/he(?) looks so expectant. priceless.