Lamb

I get a lot of fun out of the blog. It keeps me in touch with friends old and new from all parts of the globe. I learn lots and hopefully I give a little back. One of the ‘friends’ I have gathered to my metaphorical bosom (being male and of “a certain age” my bosom is most definitely metaphorical) is Adam J. Holland, the oddball Texan and author of the excellent RV Chronicles on his Unorthodox Epicure blog. I have cooked numerous chillies over the last couple of years, having been introduced to “real” chilli by the late and great Richard E. McGary our much missed Dallas blogger. Having received a gift of some chillies, I was delighted to tell Adam that I planned to cook a lamb chilli. His reaction surprised me somewhat….

lamb-and-aubergene-curry-16-of-16“I’m a mild-mannered man.” Or so said one of my Holy Ghost Father teachers before knocking seven levels of hell out of us with a stiff black leather.  Primary school education back in 1960’s Ireland was not what it is today. I well remember a dozen of us being punished for cycling in the yard after school. The punishment was “six of  the best”, with the leather, on each hand. I was moved for my secondary education to the Christian Brothers in Monkstown. That is another oxymoronic story altogether and probably has no place here, not today anyway. So, with mild manners in mind, here’s a delicious recipe for Mild Lamb and Aubergine Curry. Just like that Holy Ghost father, it too has the appearance of mildness yet packs a bit of a punch.

Spiced shoulder of lamb (19 of 21)Spring is a bit of a cures. It certainly is a bane if you happen to be a lamb. Easter, that very Christian celebration loomed very early this year and the vast bulk of the youthful sheep population trembled in fear. They were in fear because every God-fearing family in Christendom must have a leg of lamb on the table on Easter Sunday. The little darlings went to meet their maker leaving the butchers of Christendom scratching their heads, wondering how they were going to offload the rest of the beast. Easter is now a distant memory but the butchers of Ireland still have to do something with the spring lambs that have been arriving as nature intended, even if that’s too late for a very early Easter celebration. Their arrival made even later by a very late start to spring weather.

Spiced lamb shank (1 of 1)-2As I was struggling for an original dinner idea, I decided to ask a couple of foodie friends for suggestions. Given that I have cooked lamb shanks every which-way in the last while, when the best idea that emerged from their deliberations was “Why not do a lamb shank?” I wasn’t impressed. However, I hadn’t cooked them sous vide. So the thought arose and it didn’t really inspire me.

Simple lamb shanks (9 of 10)“Five hours. Wow. How come that takes soooo long?” “How do you have the patience for that sort of cooking?” Such are the questions asked of the slow-cooking cook. “You have great patience.” Now, it is probably true that I am more patient than the average schmuck. A couple of decades living in our house has contributed to that state of affairs. However, I am aware that family occasionally read this stuff, so I had better leave that aspect alone. Now back to the point of this tale….

Lamb Shoulder Casserole (7 of 7)I was recently cycling through the Wicklow countryside with a couple of friends. As happens, conversations get started on the flat, dropped on the ascent, ignored in the excitement of a downhill and restarted when we all have our breath back. Often, we get strung out (not in a doping sort of way, we aren’t that type of cyclists). Conversations, started between three, can carry on for a time between two as the laggard joins up with the group. This can lead to some confusion as two will complete a conversation started by three. The third will join back up with the group and carry on from where things had been left off. 

Spring Lamb ShoulderWe are social animals. Some more social than others. Some more animal. Communication between us can be very complicated. We misunderstand each other and often end up not talking. We take offence. We get petulant and complicate our relationships through our always-on communication that for the best part really does not communicate at all. Look at the things we use to keep our friends close – text, Viber, Snapchat, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, for some of us, LinkedIn. Despite all the ‘communication’ many of us have never felt more alone, more isolated and out of touch. Not me though. I KNOW how to stay in touch. All I have to do is prepare some very simple Spring Lamb Shoulder and they will arrive at the table, ready to talk. Ready to share stories. Ready to really communicate. 

Leg of Lamb Sous Vide (14 of 15)Spring has well and truly sprung in these parts. The daffodils have shown their smiling yellow faces to the world and retreated into their subterranean bulbs to see out the next three seasons. The weeds have bloomed again in every flowerbed and paving crack they can find and the horrendously expensive spring lamb has reared its bleating head (metaphorically, if not physically) in the better butcher shops around Dublin.  So I knew I was going to have to do something with a leg thereof.

Lamb shoulder sous vide (6 of 7)When I was a very young lad, we holidayed on Valentia Island, just off the Kerry coast. I still have memories of seeing a sow and her numerous porky offspring resting in the kitchen of a farmhouse. At the time, I didn’t think much about it. On reflection, they were much simpler times and we kids were happy sleeping three to a bed in our holiday home. There was no internet, no television, one channel on the radio and only a small river to amuse us children.

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