The alchemy of simple recipes

The more I cook, the more I’m thrilled by simple recipes. Much of Italian cookery is made of just a few ingredients; making the best of them. I love the recipes in the two River Cafe Cookbook Easy volumes. They’re true alchemy.

This evening, Sam and I have been blown away by a fantastic recipe in Simon Hopkinson’s The Good Cook, the book that accompanied his recent TV series. Breast of Lamb Baked with Onions has just eight lines of ingredients:

1kg boned, rolled and tied breast of lamb (my butcher didn’t have any breast, so I used neck of lamb)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a little dripping or oil (I used rapeseed oil)
1kg onions, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp vinegar (I used sherry vinegar)
2-3 tbsp anchovy sauce
2 tbsp chopped parsley

The lamb, onions and bay leaves are cooked slowly in the oven in a casserole dish with a cartouche for a couple of hours or so until the the lamb is deliciously tender. The lamb and bay leaves are removed and the vinegar and anchovy sauce added to the onions and pan liquid.

The liquid is then reduced, to get a smooth, thick soupy onion gloop.

I put the gloop in the bottom of a bowl and placed the neck of lamb on top scattered with the parsley to serve, and accompanied it with plain cooked carrots and smashed new potatoes with butter and chopped mint. Hopkinson suggests mash, but I liked the idea of mint as a traditional accompaniment for both lamb and new potatoes.

The depth of flavour in the onions and the melting lamb have to be experienced to be believed.

I’ve been a bit quick with the method description here, partly because the recipe is so simple, and partly because I urge you to go out and buy The Good Cook. It’s a cookbook that should be on your bookshelf.

I’m going to cook the recipe again very soon using the right cut of lamb. Maybe it’ll be even better, if that’s possible.

One thought on “The alchemy of simple recipes

  1. Hi There David,
    Thanks you for your post, OK I had to share this recipe! Its Healthy AND everyone will love it AND it goes great with almost everything -Sweet Potato Fries!

    Ingredients for for Sweet Potato Fries
    1 Sweet potato per person
    non stick cooking spray
    Salt and pepper or seasoned salt or cinnamon (it depends on the flavor you like best).

    Instructions:
    Preheat the oven to 425F

    1. Wash sweet potatoes.

    2. Peel Sweet Potato (this works better if you steam them for 4 minutes first but its not necessary).

    3. Slice lengthwise into � inch strips

    4. Place strips single layer on 18 x 26 x 1� baking tray that has been lightly sprayed

    6. Spray the tops of the sweet potato fries with butter lightly

    7. Sprinkle the seasoning (cinnamon,salt and pepper, or seasoned salt) over tops of the sweet potato fries

    8. Bake the sweet potato fries in 425�F oven for approximately 20 minutes

    9. remove from oven and serve!

    My favorite is the seasoned salt but I did have them with cinnamon one time and they were really good!
    Keep up the good work

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