To answer the question of what to serve with lamb shanks cooked in red wine, a polenta came to mind.
It provided a quick and delicious accompaniment and I added some crème de courgettes. To complement the polenta, a generous topping of the cooking jus rounded the taste.
The polenta I use is a pre-cooked maize one and it is ready in a few minutes. You have to stir it constantly as it has a tendency to plop out of the saucepan if left unattended and it thickens very quickly. It sometimes looks like the lava of a volcano and it is certainly very hot!
The addition of the crème de courgettes gave a different flavour to it and incorporated the vegetables. The meat jus, essentially meat gravy with a strong red wine, was pleasing to the palate.
Serves 4 :
- 500ml salted water
- 3 tablespoons maize polenta
- For the Cream of Courgettes:
- 2 medium-size courgettes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 frozen cubes of garlic and parsley sauce
- 125ml single cream
- Cook the courgettes and onion in a pressure cooker and whizz.
- Add the cream and the garlic and parsley sauce.
- Bring the salted water to the boil and add the polenta, stirring all the time.
- When it is cooked (refer to the instructions on the packet for the cooking time), add the cream of courgettes and stir.
- Transfer into an oven-proof dish for 10 minutes at 180C.
- Just before serving, ladle some of the meat jus on top.
Note: I have mentioned before how to make garlic and parsley sauce, garlic and basil sauce and garlic and coriander sauce in convenient ice cube containers for some of the previous recipes. I will do a separate post to recap all that.
Or… see the post of Coquilles Saint Jacques à ma Façon
Looking for a change and wanting some lean, white meat ?
Then, look for rabbit and veal. Some people don’t like it but for those of us who do like it, it makes a nice alternative to chicken.
The meat is firm and tasty and can be accommodated in a variety of ways. This time, I have chosen to stuff some saddle of rabbit with diced veal and prunes. This provides an extra tenderness without giving a sugary flavour to the meat. If you can find some pruneaux d’Agen ( prunes from the Agen region in Southwest France, not too far from Bordeaux), it is better as they are organic.
To make life easier, ask your butcher to de-bone the rabbit.
- 1 saddle of rabbit
- 100g diced veal
- 3 pruneaux d’Agen, stoned
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced in long strips
- 1 slice of smoked back bacon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small glass strong red wine
Prepare the stuffing : in a frying pan containing the oil, sweat the onion slices and then reserve, leaving the oil in the pan. Toss the veal for a few minutes and add the stoned prunes.
- Spread the rabbit meat on a plate and place the stuffing in the centre, then roll the meat tightly and use the bacon to close the parcel. At this stage, you can use a wooden toothpick to hold the meat together.
- Place the parcel in an oven-proof dish, cover with the wine and cook at 160C for 40 minutes.
- Remove the toothpick, decorate with the onion strips and serve on a bed of petits pois.
Tip: Depending on your appetite, this is sufficient for 2 people as the flesh is very firm, but you may wish to double the proportions.
Just a few days now before Christmas and I am looking to make a simple seasonal dessert that will not take too much time to prepare.
It will give me the opportunity to open a bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which was sitting in the wine rack.
Depending on the appetite of your guests, plan either a large pear per person or two medium-sized pears.
Choose them not too ripe to avoid them becoming puréed during the cooking.
Large Comice pears, rinsed and peeled
500ml strong red wine
Juice of 2 lemons
200g caster sugar
1. Pour the wine in a large saucepan and add the sugar and the lemon juice.
2. Rub each pear with a half lemon to prevent discolouration.
3. Place the pears in the saucepan and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
4. Take them out of the wine and cut delicately in a fan shape, making sure that you retain the stalk.
5. Drizzle the wine on top and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
You can serve the remainder of the wine as mulled wine.
This dessert can be prepared in advance and kept in the freezer.
Summer is definitely over, so it’s time to put tomatoes in the oven.
For this, I will use a stuffing similar to the one I use for aubergines, courgettes and peppers, which is my version of a bolognese sauce. By making a larger quantity, I will either freeze some or cook spaghetti tonight.
3 beef tomatoes, rinsed.
6 rashers of smoked back bacon, all fat removed
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and sliced
2 sticks of celery, rinsed and sliced
Celery leaves, rinsed
A handful of flat leaf parsley, rinsed
Parmesan to sprinkle over the tomatoes
1 soup spoonful olive oil1. Cut the top third of the tomatoes and reserve. With a grapefruit knife, scoop out the inside flesh of the tomatoes and reserve. Lightly salt the inside of the tomatoes and turn them upside down in an ovenproof dish to disgorge their water.
2. Put all the other ingredients and the tomato flesh in a food mixer and whizz.
3. Gently dry fry this mixture in a non-stick frying pan, without any oil for 5 minutes.
4. Fill the tomato shells, sprinkle the Parmesan on top and drizzle with olive oil. Place the ‘hats’ (top third of the tomatoes) and cook in a pre- heated oven at 200C for 10 minutes.Bon Appétit!Notes: For a vegetarian version, omit the bacon and use some cooked couscous instead.
If you use this mixture for a pasta sauce, add a small tin of tomato purée and a dash of red wine.
Lasagne and Farfalle pasta are also delicious with this sauce.
These stuffed tomatoes do not freeze well because their skin is too thin.