##So, with winter still with us, I thought it appropriate this month to share a dish with you to warm the cockles of your collective hearts. Casserole and crock-pot time continues to be upon us. Although most people wince at the sound of those “C” words, conjuring memories from ghosts of bad-dinners past, once you’ve got a tasty recipe, it’s the easiest, hassle-free cooking around. Try it – you’ll like it.
SLOW-BRAISED LAMB WITH ONION GRAVY
1 leg of shoulder of lamb, boned and diced
6 brown onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cups dry white wine, at room temp
Water, just enough to cover
Preheat your oven to 160ºC. Heat a little olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan (preferably one that will transfer to the oven), over medium-high heat. Brown the diced lamb, careful not to put too much in at once or it will release all its juices and begin to stew. Once the meat has browned lightly on all sides, grind a generous amount of sea salt and black pepper over it and transfer it to a bowl and set aside.
Keep the saucepan on medium heat and toss in all the sliced onions. Let the onions cook slowly and they will take up all the browned bits stuck on the pan from the meat, about 10 minutes. Once the onions are soft and translucent add in the garlic, tomato paste and thyme sprigs.
Cook gently for a further 2 minutes or so. Turn the heat up a little and pour in the white wine, it should bubble and boil straight away. Let the wine simmer for 4-5 minutes so that it will reduce a little.
Now add the browned meat back to the pan, add water to just barely cover the meat and bring it back to the boil. Once it is boiling, give everything a gentle stir and place a tight-fitting lid on top, you can seal it with aluminum foil if your lid does not fit securely.
Now place the saucepan into your preheated oven and forget about it for about 3 hours. You can stir it every hour or so if you like, to check the meat is cooking evenly in all the juicy sauce.
It is done when you can take a fork to the meat and it falls apart. For lamb, this will generally take a minimum of 2½-3 hours, but if you leave it longer it won’t hurt.
Once the meat is done, you can break it all up into the sauce. Serve it with deliciously thick fresh pasta, potatoes, rice or couscous with oranges and chickpeas. This dish is also good if you substitute the lamb for beef.