AS I drive in to work in Santa Maria I occasionally have to stop while the Pasteur herds his sheep along and up the road into another field. It's a beautiful sight as they skip and dance while the old man whistles and shouts directions. Thing is, I can't help myself from thinking of the smell of those sweet little lamb chops grilling on an open flame with a few fresh herbs and maybe just a touch of pungent garlic. I know I shouldn't but......we are blessed with great lamb in Mallorca and now is the best time to enjoy it, the taste is sweeter and more refined at this time of year before the hot weather arrives and the lambs start to suffer, like all of us, in the heat. The local breeds are small and sturdy animals and lend themselves perfectly to the long slow cooking favoured by the local restaurants throughout the Island. Cordero lechal, which is basically suckling lamb, is the one to choose right now and is most commonly served as Palatillas (shoulders) and Piernas (whole legs), roasted over rosemary sticks and garlic cloves in a gentle oven. They do make a fantastic meal, also, it is a dish sympathetic to mature wines from Mallorca, Ribero del duero, Rioja and Navarra so it's a good excuse to crack open a nice bottle of tinto. The recipe that follows is adapted from a well-known classical Spanish dish called Cordero al chilindron, from the Rioja and Aragon regions of the north. It is flavoured with a dried red pepper called Choricero that needs to be, first, soaked in water for a few hours so that the pulp can be scraped away from the skin. These days Choricero pepper puree can be bought in jars in all Spanish supermarkets making it easy to use, but it's never quite the same as doing it yourself, so buy 2 or 3 dried ones and give this simple recipe a go.
Best-end of Lamb al Chilindron With Saffron
Potatoes (Serves 4)
· 2 Short Best-Ends.
· 2 Tspn Choricero Pepper Puree.
· 2 Garlic Cloves, Crushed.
· 2 Tomatoes, Peeled and Chopped.
· 1 Large Onion, Chopped.
· 3 Tbsp Olive oil.
· 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree.
· 1 Tbsp Chopped Parsley.
Season the best-ends and fry them in a heavy-bottomed frying pan to a golden brown colour. Remove and roast in a hot oven (190/375/GAS 6) for 8-10 minutes. Remove and let them rest. While the lamb is cooking, sweat onions and garlic in olive oil. Add the choricero pepper puree, chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and cook over a gentle heat for about 6-8 minutes. Add the chopped parsley and season to taste. Slice the best-ends into cutlets, pour over the chilindron sauce and serve with saffron potatoes.
Saffron Potato Puree
· 1 kl Potatoes (Peeled and chopped)
· 2 Pinches of Fresh Saffron
· 200ml Olive oil
· 100ml Dry white wine
· 100ml Sea salt/Ground white pepper
Bring the white wine to the boil and add saffron, remove from the heat and leave to infuse. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then add the saffron, boil until tender and just cooked. Drain the potatoes and dry well. Pass through a fine slicer, add olive oil and season to taste.
Porrusalda with salt-cod, rocket leaves and chorizo (Serves 8)
· 9 Leeks (cleaned and chopped).
· 700 gr. Potatoes (peeled and chopped).
· 2 Garlic cloves crushed.
· 3 Carrots (peeled and chopped).
· 1 Litre fish stock.
· 3 tbsp Olive oil, seasoning.
Sweat the leaves and garlic in the olive oil, add potatoes and carrots and cover with fish stock. Boil for 10 minutes, liquidize then pass through a fine slicer, season to taste.
· 8 Small pieces of salt cod (de-salted).
· 4 Bunches of wild Rocket.
· 16 Thin slices of chorizo Iberico.
· 1 Tbsp olive oil.
· Picked chervil/snipped chives.
Bake the fish in a hot oven until just cooked (2/3 minutes) Warm slighthy the chorizo slices and mix with rocket leaves and olive oil, chervil and chives. In a soup bowl, place the salt-cod fillet in the centre. Place on top a small salad of rocket, herbs and chorizo and pour around the porrusalda and serve.
Ask your local friendly fishmonger for bones!
· 1 Kilo Fish Bones (cleaned and washed).
· 1 Large onion.
· 2 Leeks.
· 1 Celery Stick.
· 1 Bay leaf.
· 6 Black Peppercorns.
· Parsley stalks.
· 1/2 Bottle Dry White Wine.
· 50 g. Butter.
Sweat the vegetables gently in the butter without colouring. Add peppercorns, bayleaf and parsley stalks. Then the fish bones and white wine. Add water to cover the bones and simmer gently for 20 Minutes. Pass through a fine sieve. And your stock is ready to use.
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