An Easy New Year’s Meal

The tree is starting to droop. Hoovering up the needles is an hourly chore but it’s still not over! Oh no.

The spectre of New Year’s Eve hangs over me yet and we’re all feeling a bit like this:

I feel rubbish!

If, like me, you have no plans then a quick meal that you can prepare in advance and just leave alone until serving time – with some killer puddings to see the new year in – is just the job.

I’m here to give you my menu for this this NYE.

I am going to be serving my Greek Lamb with Orzo. This is a stew with the pasta added in at the final stages of cooking and fills the house with the warming scent of an array of spices and herbs and tastes just bloody fab.

You’ll need *takes deep breath*:

A splash of olive oil

Stewing Lamb (not too lean, you need some good streaks of fat)

1 onion

2 carrots (or one big bastard) Sliced in half, lengthways

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 carton of creamed tomatoes (or passata)

Tomato puree

2 Cloves of garlic

Dried Thyme and Oregano

Paprika

Cinnamon, ground and a stick

Ground mace

Ground cloves

Lamb stock

Red wine

Orzo

Fresh oregano, rosemary and mint

Feta cheese.

Got all that? Sounds complicated and a bit of a pain in the arse? It’s not, honestly.

Chop your lamb up into bit size pieces

I've used shoulder steaks

and brown in the olive oil in a heavy based large casserole pan (you might need to do this in batches depending on how many you are cooking for).

While you are sealing the lamb, roughly chop the onion and peel the garlic (I’ve specified a couple of cloves but you can decide how much you want to add – it’s up to you) before blitzing to a pulp in a food processor.

Beware the fumes!

Remove the browned lamb from the pan and add the oniony pulp to the fat and gently cook until soft.

Add the spices and herbs (I’ve not given amounts as I do just tend to throw “an amount” in, with the exception of the ground cloves – I’m not terribly keen on cloves so only ever add 1/4 teaspoon) and continue frying for a couple of minutes.

Replace the lamb into the pan (and the juices which will have accumulated in the dish) and add the tomatoes (tinned, passata and a squeeze of tomato purree) stock (about a pint), a glug of wine, the carrots and the fresh herbs. Bring to the boil and then place on the lowest possible heat and leave to bubble away gently for 2-3 hours (or longer).

Simmer, Simmer, Simmer

SO, while the lamb is cooking you can get on with making some dessert.

I ummed and ahhed over which recipe to prepare, One Jug Chocolate Brownies or Ice Cream Cake and plumped for the ice cream cake as it’s stupidly easy and has a party feel to it.

Needs more chocolate

And now, I will ask for a moment of bowed heads and silence as I have some sad news to impart. This will be the final recipe in which Ken, the Kenwood Chef mixer will make an appearance. At the grand old age of 34 (we think) he has finally shuffled from his mortal coil. Which is a bit strange actually as the problem does appear to be with a spring inside him which has finally rusted to the point of no return.

Farewell Ken. You did us proud. *Bravely holds back tears*

Line a springform cake tin with clingfilm, making sure that you have enough to cover the cake at the top.

Leave your ice cream (I went for vanilla, but you could use chocolate I suppose, or cookie dough, or raspberry ripple, or anything at all!) out of the freezer to soften a little, meanwhile take a rolling pin to some bourbon biscuits and smash them into small chunks.

(place in a sealable bag first, HA HA!)

Add your ice cream  to your *sobs* mixer.

Softened ice cream

And add the bourbon biscuits, chocolate drops (I used both milk and white) and honey roasted nuts before mixing. (Keep back about a third of the biscuits and a few chocolate chips for decorating later)

Delicious

Smash up a crunchie bar and add that to the mix (reserving a third of the honeycomb)

A glycemic spike approaches...

Pour the “batter” into your prepared cake tin and smooth the top a little with a spatula.

And that's it!

Wrap the overhanging cling film over the top of the cake and place into the freezer until five minutes before you’re ready to serve.

When you are ready, take the ice cream and chuck the reserved biscuits, crunchie bar and chocolate chips over the cake (and I’d definitely throw some sparklers on the top for some New Year’s Eve glitter and POP!)

This may well give you a sugar hangover. Or at least, that's what you can blame your bad head on tomorrow.

For the full recipe (and also some details about hot butterscotch and chocolate sauces to go with this beauty) check out here

Back to the lamb. After a few hours of gentle simmering the lamb should be soft and the sauce a little bit thicker.

At this point I usually turn the oven onto a low heat (gas mark 2) and add a couple of handfuls of Orzo before giving the stew a final stir and putting the pan, lid on, into the oven to cook for 30 minutes – or until the pasta is cooked.

Make a quick mix of feta cheese, fresh chopped mint and oregano to sprinkle on the top of the stew.

Sprinkle over stew

Serve with green beans and broccoli. I sometimes make some garlic and rosemary roasted new potatoes, but these aren’t really necessary as the pasta in the stew provides the carby bulk.

Kalá hristúyenna!

I wish you all a Happy 2012, may your year be full of parties and happy times!

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Posted on 12/30/2011, in Cooking, Party Ideas and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Omg. Am in the pub, mouthwatering at lamb loveliness …… Mmmmmm

  2. Oh how wonderful! IN THE PUB YOU SAY?

  3. I’m just doing homeade pizza and calling it a night

  4. Bit late to this (we can never, ever be arsed on NYE, I just slumped gratefully into bed at 11:00 PM) but the stew looks gorgeous, & I might try on a normal weekend. Is it me or is it really hard to come by fresh oregano? I guess I should grow some of my own in a charming pot on the windowsill but tbh that is highly unlikely. It has such a beautiful flavour though.

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