Pomegranate marinated shoulder of lamb.

Pomegranate marinated shoulder of lamb.

25-09-2021Marc Fosh

Autumn brings with it the arrival of quince, fresh figs and pomegranates. Most people seem to ignore these fruits but for any serious cook they can be an endless source of inspiration and I always look forward to having them in season.

Steeped in history and romance and almost in a class by itself, the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility in many countries and a very popular fruit all over the mediterranean to the Middle East. The “Granada”, as it is known in Spain, is a round fruit with a thick, leathery red skin.

Inside it contains large white seeds that are covered in small sacks of pinkish-red juicy sweet pulp. It is fiddly to eat but the juice is well worth extracting for refreshing, long drinks or to marinate and flavour chicken, lamb or game.

It is regarded to be a tenderiser for meat and the juice is also used to flavour the sickly-sweet French liquor “Grenadine”.

Loosen the flesh by rolling the whole pomegranate on a hard surface, pressing down with your hand. Then cut in half and scoop out the centre with a spoon. Remove the white pith, as it is bitter.

Alternatively, eat the flesh straight from the skin. To extract the juice, place the seeds in a sieve and press with the back of a spoon or use a lemon squeezer. Pomegranate juice is rich in vitamin C but it also stains, so be careful when preparing them.

Pomegranates combine well with walnuts, figs, bananas, cream cheese and pistachios. A simple orange salad can be transformed into something special with the addition of a few pomegranate seeds.

”Membrillo”(Quince), when fully ripe, can fill a room with the most unbelievable fragrance. It is a rustic cousin to apples and pears with much the same shape as an apple with but a harder skin. Quince is often referred to as the cook’s fruit as it cannot be eaten raw. It makes exceptionally good jellies and jams as it contains large amounts of pectin, which makes it ideal for preserves.

The Spanish serve quince jelly with cheese, but you can also add diced “membrillo” to casseroles and stews or as a puree with poultry and game. It is said that quince was sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, as a symbol of happiness, love and fertility.

Loin of venison with Pearl barley - sage risotto and a quince puree

Serves 4

4 venison loin steaks (175g each)
200g wild mushroom’s

Pearl barley risotto

  • 250g pearl barley
  • 1litre chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion
    (finely chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves
    (crushed)
  • 8-10 fresh sage leaves (chopped)
  • 100g grated Parmesan
  • 100g mascarpone cheese
  • 50g butter

Quince puree

  • 400g quince
    (peeled and diced)
  • 100g dried apricots
  • 4tbsp. Sherry vinegar
  • 250ml water
  • Seasoning

For the pearl barnley risotto

1 Bring the chicken stock to the boil and set aside. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the onions, crushed garlic cloves and chopped sage leaves. Cook over a gentle flame for 1-2 minutes to allow the onion to soften.

2 Add the pearl barley and stir to coat. Add 2 ladlefull’s of hot chicken stock and continue to stir until all the liquid has been absorbed. Over a medium heat, continue to add the stock gradually and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed and the pearl barley has softened.

3 Add the mascarpone, grated Parmesan and season to taste.

For the quince puree

1 Place all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pan cover with a lid. Cook over a gentle flame for 40 minutes until the quince is soft. Blend to a puree in a food processor, pass through a fine sieve and season to taste.

To serve

1 Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and fry the venison loins for 2-3 minutes on each side. Leave to rest in a warm place for 6-8 minutes.

2 Pan-fry the wild mushrooms over a gentle flame for 2-3 minutes.
Place a mound of pearl barley risotto in the middle of 4 warm plates.

3 Slice the venison loins and lay them on top and sprinkle with wild mushrooms.
Serve with quince puree and fresh vegetables.

Membrillo ( Quince jelly )

This is a great accompaniment for hard and semi-smoked Spanish cheeses like the Mallorcan “grimalt” or “manchego”, “idiazabel” or “roncal”. You can also spread it on your toast for breakfast.

Fresh quince

Serves 6

  • 1kg Fresh quince (peeled and diced)
  • 800g sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod (split)
  • 800ml water

1 Place all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pan and cover with a tight-fitting lid.

2 Cook over a gentle flame, stirring occasionally, for 60- 70 minutes until thick.

3 Pour into a plastic container and leave to set in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Muhammara

Muhammara is a red-hot Syrian dip. If you love Baba Ganoush and Hummus then you will absolutely salivate all over this delicious mixture of peppers, walnuts & pomegranate. Its quick & easy to make and the perfect thing for your next BBQ.

  • 3 red peppers
  • 60g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and optional
  • 80g walnuts
  • 30ml tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 30ml olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1 Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Put the peppers on a tray and roast for 30-35 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are cooked and the skin is blackened.

2 Put the peppers in a bowl, cover with cling-film and, once cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin and seeds.

3 Pat the peppers dry, and place in a food processor. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon juice, molasses, cumin, paprika, cayenne and garlic. Pulse to form a thick paste. Add the olive oil and season to taste.

Pomegranate marinated shoulder of lamb

Serves 4

  • 2 shoulders of lamb
  • 150ml Pomegranate juice
  • 6 cumin seeds
  • 100ml Dry red wine
  • 2 Large red onions
  • 1 Lemon
    (chopped)
  • 3 Cloves garlic
  • 10 Black peppercorns (ground)
  • 10 fresh basil leaves (torn)
  • Pinch of salt

1 In blender, combine pomegranate juice, red wine, onions, lemon, garlic, pepper, basil and salt. Rub some of marinade well into lamb.

2 Place the shoulders in shallow glass or enamel pan. Pour the remaining marinade over meat.

3 Marinate in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or overnight.

4 When ready to cook, wipe off excess marinade.

5 Roast the lamb shoulders in a hot oven (200cº/400fº/gas6) for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to a moderate (160cº/220fº/gas 4) heat and cook for 40-45 minutes, basting now and again with the marinade. Leave to rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving.

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