Trying to splice the terms “concrete plans“, “Saturday evening“, and “our local supermarket” into the same sentence is rarely, if ever, a sound idea.
I’d had a vague idea about doing something groovy with a nice lump of lamb, which, of course, more or less guaranteed that by the time I was in the hallowed aisles of that blessed boutique, they would be out of said meat.
Mrs. Paleovirtus has since informed me that due to some celebrity chef or other banging on about how wonderful lamb is, everybody now wants to eat it several times a day, meaning that the resultant sudden spike in demand far outstrips supply.
No doubt, even as I type, a semi-secret planning committee is meeting, and 6 months hence they will publish a “for-your-eyes-only” report aimed at senior management, recommending a doubling, perhaps even a trebling, of the amount of lamb they stock.
Half a year from now, though, the movers and shakers will be sneering at lamb, and will be up on the rooftops with home made megaphones, loudly broadcasting the virtues of zebra, or ostrich.
No problemo, compadres! Set your freezers to “standby” – 6 months and 10 days from now the fools will have a mountain of lamb they want rid of, at any price.
So, no lamb. Oh, right.
Every time I tried to re-jig my plans around a replacement ingredient, I discovered that one of the ingredients of the new recipe was either missing or decidedly fifth rate. I spent the best part of an hour pinging around the supermarket, pulling stuff off shelves and subsequently putting it back again, until, finally, all the pieces fell into place.
In the end it was the culinary equivalent of setting out to book a beach vacation in Hawaii, and ending up with a hiking holiday in Switzerland. Very nice, don’t get me wrong, just not what you had in mind when you began flicking through the brochures.
Today, however, I’ve got my destiny in my own hands – I’ve already taken some venison out of the freezer.
Got to make room for all that lamb, after all….
Pork With Apricots and Almonds
- 850g minced / ground pork
- 200g soft dried apricots, halved
- 150g flaked almonds
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp mild paprika
- 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 tsp hot chilli powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp dried juniper berries, lightly crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tbsp hazelnut butter
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- fresh chives, finely chopped
- chilli flakes
- Place the ground cinnamon, ground coriander, turmeric, ground cumin, mild paprika, smoked Spanish paprika, hot chilli powder, dried oregano, dried rosemary, dried thyme, plus salt and black pepper to taste in a small bowl. Add just enough water to produce a thin paste. Stir well, and set aside.
- Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in a large non-stick pan. Add the onion, and stir fry until soft, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the apricot halves. Stir fry for 3 minutes.
- Add the water and spice paste, garlic, bay leaves and juniper berries. Stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
- Add the meat, and stir well to coat with the contents of the pan. Stir fry until the mince has lost its raw, pink colour, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the tomato purée, hazelnut butter, and flaked almonds. Stir well. Add about 3dl of water, stir well, and cover the pan with its lid. Cook the meat on a low simmer for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, topping up the water levels if the sauce threatens to become a little too thick.
- Once the meat is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Serve garnished with chopped chives and hot chilli flakes, together with cauliflower rice or naan bread.