Chicken and Vegetable Ragoût with Pumpkin Dumplings

ssshhh .. it's fancy French Ragout

ssshhh .. it’s fancy French Ragout

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Many of my recipes are mix and match. A pie filling can also be a fabulous stew. Excuse me .. ragoût. A scone recipe becomes tasty dumplings. This is the result of adapting Chicken and Vegetable Pie  and Damper recipes. Don a beret and cravat, practice your accent .. et voilà. They’ll never know it isn’t haute cuisine 🙂 

Chili-Chocolate Venison Pot Pie

Chili Chocolate Venison Pot Pie

Chili Chocolate Venison Pot Pie

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Here, Mid-Winter is the season when licensed hunters are out culling the herds of feral deer that do so much damage to our National Parks. The result is that very lean free-range venison is often cheaper than beef. We are able to enjoy the rich, gamey flavours of a meat once exclusively the preserve of Kings without breaking the bank. Such rich meat carries quite heavy spices remarkably well. The only real difficulty with this dish is not eating the beautiful braised filling before it makes it into the pie!

Persian Lamb

Persian Lamb with all the trimmings

Persian Lamb with all the trimmings

The beautiful Pomegranate tree I planted four years ago is now full of fruit. More than I can eat. More than even Scribbler can eat! I remembered this dish (properly called Lamb Fesenjan), Perian prepared for Viscountess’s “Night in the Khazbar” birthday party some years ago. Juicing the pomegranates turns the meat pink and is not as sweet as the version using molasses or syrup. If lamb is expensive or hard to get where you live, try it with chicken pieces. Serve with rice and salad for an everyday feast or take a little culinary trip with tabouli, olives, Hummus and dukka. You can almost hear the camel-bells 🙂

Serves 4 – 6

  • 2 onions
  • 1kg/2lbs lamb (weighed without fat or bone)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1½ – 2 cups vegetable stock (you can use beef stock for a richer flavour)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 8 cardamon pods OR 1 tsp ground cardamon
  • ¼ cup pomegranate molasses OR ½ cup pomegranate syrup OR juice of 4 – 6 pomegranates plus 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric

Peel and chop onions coarsely

Remove fat, bone and gristle from the meat. Cut  into 2.5cm/1″ cubes.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (I use an electric frying pan) to medium heat. The oil should be hot but not smoking.

Once the oil is hot, drop the onions in and fry until they begin to brown. Add lamb cubes and fry until nicely browned.

Turn the heat down to a low simmer. Stir in half of the stock and the lemon juice. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for half an hour.

While the meat is simmering, prepare the sauce. Crush the cardamon pods until they open. Place the rest of the stock, cardamon, pomegranate syrup/molasses/juice, sugar and walnuts into a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture boils, turn the temperature down to low, place the lid on the saucepan and and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain fat and juices from the pan the lamb has been cooking in. You can discard them .. but I like to put them into the stockpot with the bones and gristle I trimmed earlier. It makes a lovely broth for tomorrow’s soup.

Stir in salt, pepper, cinnamon and turmeric.

Strain the pomegranate sauce into the lamb mixture to remove the cardamon pods. Stir well, Cover and allow to simmer a further 20 minutes.

While you are waiting, put a pot of water over medium heat and bring to the boil. Once the water has come to the boil, drop the rice in and stir.

Serve the lamb with rice. Garnish with extra walnuts, pomegranate seeds and/or chopped parsley


Beef and Vegetable Ragoût

Beef and Vegetable Ragout

Beef and Vegetable Ragout

There is a distinct nip in the evening air now. The trees have dressed themselves in Autumn finery and it’s time for me to mulch the garden, prune the perennials and cover frost sensitive shoots in preparation for the months ahead. Time to clean the heater and unpack woolly jumpers. Thoughts are turning from beach barbeques and fruit salads to the warm comfort of soups and stews.

Don’t let the name fool you, ragoût is just braised beef thinly disguised with a beret and a put-on accent. “‘Allo. Je swee ze ‘andsome Ragoût not ze borink stew. Vraiment”

Makes an awesome cottage pie though .. and you’d be surprised with how many kids Ragout is welcome, whilst stew is not 😉

The Bookworm’s Turkey

Please think carefully before introducing this dish into your repertoire. Friendships have been strained, and domestic war has been declared over stolen leftovers.

Bookworm's Turkey

Bookworm’s Turkey

Yes, it’s that good.

It played like the script from a Spaghetti Western, all that was missing was the soundtrack by Enrico Morricone. A casserole made of end-of-payweek leftovers was served at a dinner party. Tarted up with garlicy mashed sweet potato, julienne carrots, green beans and herb bread, it successfully impersonated a “gourmet” feast .. and the crowd went wild. Violating several laws of physics (and her mushroom black-ban) Angel tucked away more than her own body weight.