This is a robust, hearty dish that’s full of Mediterranean flavor. It goes really well served with pasta and because it’s basically a stew, serving it on top of a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes would also be good.
The lamb is cooked until it’s falling apart and the addition of cinnamon, allspice and cloves make it really interesting.
I’ve adapted a recipe that I found combining Greek and Venetian cuisine, harking back to the days of the Venetian occupation of Corfu. I think the addition of Greek kalamata olives makes it even more Greek-ish. You can also make it with beef but lamb seems more springlike.
BRAISED LAMB WITH RED WINE, TOMATOES, OLIVES & AROMATICS
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1lb 6oz (600g) of lamb fillet, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) chunks
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots cut into 3/4 inch (2cm) slices
4 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
2 sticks of cinnamon
A pinch of ground allspice
1 bay leaf
9fl oz (250ml) of good red wine
Half a cup (120ml measure) of pitted kalamata olives, rinsed and drained
2 x 14 oz (400ml) cans of tomatoes, chopped or whole
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
1lb (450g) of short tube pasta
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Heat half of the oil in a heavy pan. Season the lamb with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and brown in the hot oil in small batches – set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and gently sweat the onion until soft, about 8 minutes. add the carrot, garlic, spices and bay leaf. Cook for a couple more minutes then add the lamb along with any of the meat juices, followed by the tomatoes (and their juice) and red wine.
Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer for 2 hours then remove the lid and cook for another hour, until the lamb is falling apart and you have a thick sauce.
Check the seasoning, remove the whole spices, put the lid back on and allow it to rest while you cook the pasta according to instructions.
Serve the lamb on top of the cooked pasta in warmed bowls and offer some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano to pass around.