SATURDAY'S USUALLY INVOLVE a stroll through the Edinburgh Farmers' Market on my lunch break. This week, I picked up some stunning lamb shanks from the Carmichael Estate stand with a view to rustling up Sunday lunch.
I buy meat from this producer nearly every week and always find it of exceptional quality and value. As I research the farm, it turns out the Carmichael family have been farming this land since 1292, which is just incredible. Their stocks are fed on grass or home-grown feed, which is crucial not just for flavour, but for the wellbeing of the animal, too. There is also an abattoir and butchery onsite, reducing stress for the animals to ensure that their journey from nature to fork is as pleasant as possible.
With my oven currently out of action, I've been relying heavily on my slow cooker. which is great as it means fewer dishes to clean up! The addition of feta actually came about as I had been watching Sat Bains cooking lamb with the cheese on Saturday Kitchen the previous morning - thanks for the inspiration, Sat!
2x lamb shanks
2x onions, roughly chopped
2x cloves garlic, bashed still in skin
Good quality lamb or chicken stock, enough to cover
1x aubergine, diced
1x red onion, sliced
1x courgette, diced
Tin of good quality tomatoes
2x cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1tsp tomato puree
Few sprigs of thyme
1x block of feta cheese
Handful of baby potatoes (Maris Peer in this instance)
Sea salt and pepper
Small glass of red wine
1) Brown the shanks on the hob in your slow cooker bowl. Set aside and gently sweat the onions for ten mins, then add the garlic for a further minute. Return the lamb to the pot, season and cover with stock. Return to slow cooker base and place on 'low' setting for 3-4 hours.
2) Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the potatoes. Until tender, but not cooked through. Slice in half and set aside.
3) For the ratatouille, begin by sweating the red onions in olive oil for 3-4 mins until softened. Then add the garlic and tomato puree for a further minute. Add the aubergine and courgette then mix around. If you don't have a pot big enough to do this effectively, sweat each individual component off in batches.
4) Next, add the tinned tomatoes, thyme and mix. Season, then leave to simmer gently for around 30 mins, or until softened. You don't want to overcook it, or it'll turn to mush.
5) When the lamb is flaking from the bone, allow a good 15 mins to rest. Place a pot on the hob and add the red wine, reduce by half. Strain a couple of ladles of the cooking liquor into the pot and reduce down to a thick, treacle-like consistency.
6) At the last minute, heat a frying pan on the hob with some oil and butter and toss in the potatoes. Cook for a couple of minutes until lightly coloured. Whisk in a knob of butter to the sauce.
7) Place the ratatouille (remember to check seasoning) into the centre of the bowl, with the lamb shank on top. Place a few of the potatoes around the bowl. Glaze the lamb with the sauce and crumble the feta around the dish.