I've never been a massive fan of Italian food. That's not to say I didn't like it, I really do, but I have been leaning more towards an Asian bent in the last few years. When I go out for dinner, I never think Italian. Sure, I'll whip up the odd risotto or spaghetti, but not in a really authentic way.
In the last few weeks I've had Italy on the brain. Lucy is about to head to Venice for a culinary/ artistic jaunt, and I am a bit jealous. Put this together with the May 2009 issue of Delicious magazine, the ultimate Italian collectors issue, and I've gone a bit crazy for Italian flavor and produce.
So far I have made four meals using the recipes from this one magazine, that is what I call value for money. This evening I am making stufatini di agnello con l'aceto - lamb braised with vinegar and green beans, and I will share it with you, in hope that everyone will go out and buy a copy of this consistently brilliant publication.
1/2 cup olive oil, 1.2 kg diced lamb shoulder, 1/2 onion, chopped, 2/3 cup good quality red wine vinegar, 450g green beans trimmed cut into 4cm lengths, roasted or mashed potatoes and a green salad, to serve
In a flame proof cassreole dish that is large enough to hold all the lamb, heat oil over a medium-high heat. Brown the lamb, in batches for 6-8 minutes until sealed all over. Remove all lamb from dish. Add onion and stir for 4 minutes or until transclusent. Return all lamb to pan, add the vinegar and some salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring for 1 minute, then reduce heat to low. Add beans and a little more salt and pepper - to taste - then cover and gently simmer 1 1/2 hours until lamb is very tender.
Serve with potatoes and a green salad. Serves 4-6.
As I am not cooking for six people, I have cut all my ingredients down to a third, and it worked a treat. I thought some wilted spinach with a dash of lemon juice and toasted pine nuts would really compliment this dish. I didn't have any potatoes, so I substitutes plain cous cous instead, which I cooked in a light vegetable stock. This recipe is delightful, and so easy. One of those put it on and forget about it types. I'm road testing this one for a future dinner party, and the verdict: fool proof.
Next on my list, the May 2009 edition of Gourmet Traveler magazine, which is spruking itself as 'the best of Italy'. Stay tuned for more kitchen adventures.
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