LAMB AND PEAS CASSEROLE

This is a delicious dish prepared in my region (Campania) around Easter time. This time falls at the beginning of Spring. It is the time of the year I love the most, both for the religious meaning it has for the Christians, and for its general feeling of rebirth for all living creatures. This said, it may sound gruesome to talk about a meat dish, but, alas, we have to accept the natural cycle of life and death! And, though I respect the views of vegetarians and I ideally hope one day all creatures great and small will live in total harmony on this earth, I do believe that we are still far from that time and that the most urgent responsibility for us is to feed our fellow human beings who are still undernourished on this mother Earth, generous enough to provide for all her children. I won’t say more, for a recipe is not the place to elaborate on liabilities.


However, I should add, to be more realistic and faithful to the recipe, that we normally use the young offspring of goats which are abundant in this period and that this is a culinary metaphor to commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross (the Lamb of God). I hope I have not put you off completely with this last graphic description! You can try this dish with whatever lamb or goat meat you prefer.

1 Kg of very tender lamb cut in smallish pieces (Knuckle of leg or similar)

1 large onion

1 clove garlic

1 good chicken stock cube

2 tbsp olive oil

some fresh rosemary

500 gr frozen peas

1 small onion

2 tbsp fresh parsley

2 dsp olive oil

Remove all excess fat from the lamb. In a shallow pan put the pieces of lamb, washed but not dried. Cover with lid and cook on moderate fire until they stop oozing water. Make some space in the middle of pan and place the sliced onion, the garlic, the cube and the rosemary. Start adding enough water to dissolve the cube and let it cook covered, gradually adding boiling water as it gets absorbed. Check if it needs more salt. It should take up to ¾ of an hour to cook: ideally the meat should come off the bones or flake. Make also sure that the sauce is quite dense and juicy before turning off the heat. In the meantime, you should also start cooking the peas. From frozen, place them in a saucepan with half mug of water, 2 tbs of olive oil, the small onion and parsley. Cook them covered for ½ an hour or until they are tender. Make sure that all liquid is reduced, season with salt and pepper and pour into the lamb when this is ready. Mix well and serve sprinkled with fresh black pepper.

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