Meat and poultry

Slow-cooked lamb with sage


What a week it has been. We are all still recovering from the shock of last Friday’s events in Paris. While none of my friends and family were hurt, many others were not so lucky.

Life goes on and I salute the Parisians who have continued to enjoy café life, with #jesuisenterrasse trending on social media.  But comfort food also has its place in difficult times. This simple but flavorful lamb dish requires virtually no prep, and will make your home smell divine during the four hours it cooks. My definition of comfort.

Slow-cooked lamb with sage

(from the French blog C’est Moi Qui L’ai Fait)

2 kg boneless shoulder of lamb

a good handful of sage leaves

200 ml dry white wine

salt and pepper

Serves 6-8

Preheat your oven to 230 C.

Trim any thick fat off the lamb shoulder, leaving a thin layer of fat. Place the lamb shoulder fat side down in a dutch oven and heat over medium flame on the hob, until some of the fat has rendered and the lamb has browned. Turn over and brown the other side.

When both sides are browned, take the pan off the hob and remove the lamb to a plate. Wipe the excess fat from the pan with some kitchen paper, then put the lamb back in fat side up. Cover the lamb in sage leaves, then pour in the white wine. Season with salt and pepper, cover and put in the oven.

Important: you must then immediately reduce the heat to 150 C.

Cook for around four hours, basting every hour.

To serve, gently separate the lamb into chunks using two forks.




Meat and poultry

Sticky oven-baked Asian spare ribs


It’s official – we’ve had the coldest spring in 50 years here in the UK. So we haven’t exactly been firing up the barbecue on a regular basis. In fact, I think we have cooked outside exactly twice this year.

Instead, I’ve been making these oven-baked ribs quite regularly. They are satisfyingly sticky and caramelized, and are a big hit with the younger generation.

I use tamari soy sauce in this recipe, which is a gluten free, darker and more concentrated type of soy sauce. (Regular soy sauce typically contains wheat.) While I am not a fan of soy milk and other soya-based substitution products, I have no issue with soya-based condiments such as tamari sauce or miso, so long as they are well tolerated. Unfortunately some individuals with dairy or gluten intolerance find they are also intolerant to soy. Soy is not allowed on the GAPS diet, but if you are following a gluten free or GFCF diet and are not intolerant to soy, then tamari sauce is most definitely your friend.

Sticky oven-baked Asian spare ribs (adapted from a Bill Granger recipe in Waitrose magazine)

1.5 kg pork spare ribs

200 ml orange juice

60 ml tamari soy sauce

4 tablespoons honey

4 star anise

Serves 4-6

Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

Combine the orange juice, tamari sauce, honey and star anise in a roasting tray and mix well. Add the spare ribs and give it all a good stir before covering with tin foil. Bake for around two hours.

Increase the heat to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Remove the tin foil and cook for another 45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the ribs are well-browned.

Meat and poultry

Slow-roasted duck legs

duck legs

I enjoy making – and eating – a proper French confit de canard. Maybe I’ll even blog about it someday. These slow-roasted duck legs are a sort of faux version. They are lighter than the real thing, but still very rich and satisfying. They are less time-consuming to prepare, though still not exactly fast food. I often make them in winter as a mid-week treat for my family, but I also served some last week on a lovely spring evening with just a fresh green salad on the side.

Whatever you do, make sure to save the vast quantities of rendered fat you will drain off during the cooking. You can use the rendered fat for all kinds of roasting and frying. My favorite use is for roasting chicken – simply rub a tablespoon or two of rendered duck fat all over the bird, sprinkle with sea salt, and be prepared for an amazingly moist roast chicken with fantastically crispy skin.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First try these lovely slow-roasted duck legs.

Slow-roasted duck legs (adapted from Simply Recipes)

1 duck leg per person

sea salt

Take the duck legs out of the refrigerator and arrange in a single layer in a roasting tin. Using a sharp knife, skewer or scissors, pierce the skin of each leg all over, in at least 10-12 places. (This will help the fat to render and will make the skin crispy.) Sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Leave the legs to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Without preheating the oven, put the roasting tin in the oven. Put the heat on to 150C°/300°F/gas mark 2 and cook for 2 and 1/2 hours. Drain the rendered fat into a bowl every 30 minutes or so.

Then increase the heat to 190C°/375°F/gas mark 5 and cook for another 20 minutes or until the skin is fully crispy.

Serve immediately. Any leftovers are nice shredded and added to a salad. Refrigerate the rendered fat and use within a week to cook vegetables or roast chicken.