Braised lamb with artichokes
Even though artichokes are in season both in spring and early autumn, seeing them always reminds me of spring, fresh tastes and new beginnings. Artichokes do seem to have a bad reputation as being difficult to clean and manage which put me off for years. Actually the are quite simple to handle once you learn how. And if your “yaya” (Greek for grandmother) is not able to oblige, there are plenty of online videos or step-by-step articles to show. However, nothing beats actually buying a few and trying them out yourself. If all else fails, you can substitute fresh for frozen ones, though the taste of the fresh ones is more distinctive.
Having said that in this spring dish with the strong flavors of the yearling lamb and black olives, frozen will do the trick. just remember to add them defrosted and later in the dish as they only need about 15′ cooking time.
- 1.5 kg lamb or young goat, in large cubes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 onions, finely sliced
- 4 thyme spigs
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 2 bay leaves
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1 l. stock
- salt and pepper
- 8 fresh artichokes
- 1 lemon cup
- 600 g new potatoes, small and scrubbed
- 175 g Kalamata olives, pitted
- 50 g butter
- 2 tbsp plain white flour
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
Pat dry the meat. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and fry the meat in batches until well browned, over a high heat. Remove and set aside. Lower the heat to low and add the onions. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes until softened and golden. Return the meat and add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, orange zest, juice, stock and season well. Bring to the boil, then allow to simmer gently, covered, for 1,5 hours.
Prepare the artichokes, brushing all cut surfaces with the lemon cup to prevent discoloration. Cut in half. Add to the casserole, along with the olives and new potatoes. Cook covered for a further 30 minutes.
Gently cook the butter and flour together to make a roux in a small saucepan. Gradually whisk in the strained liquid from the casserole and simmer for 10′ before returning to the casserole. Check seasoning, remove any herb sprigs and the bay leaves. Pour over the sauce, stir in the thyme and serve.