“They sat down. In front of each of them was a large plate of some sort of ragu smelling strongly of garlic, a bottle of raki, a pitcher of water and a cheap tumbler….. Bond…started to eat with his right hand. The ragout was delicious but steaming hot. Bond winced each time he dipped his fingers into it…. When they had scoured their plates, a silver bowl of water in which rose leaves floated, and a clean linen cloth, were put between Bond and Kerim”
From Russia with Love, Ian Fleming
Bond was offered crusty bread to eat with his ragout and Fleming was right – the bread soaks up the hot, unctuous juices whilst at the same time adding a bit of crunch and texture. And this particular stew really is a cut above most other stews, I think it’s the quince which raises its game. Mutton has a deeper, richer flavour than lamb – follow this link to find out more about the differences, and where to buy mutton on the internet.
If you really need a vegetable, purple sprouting broccoli, or some plain green beans, would do the trick.
What better to listen to than the vibrant, frantic gypsy music of Tarif de Haidouks. I went to see them play – the energy – unbelievable. See for yourself in the Youtube clip below, beneath the recipe.
- 350g/12 oz stewing mutton or lamb, fat removed and cut into 2cm/1” pieces (ask your butcher to do this)
- 10 banana shallots
- olive oil for frying
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed with some smoked salt
- 120ml/½ cup red martini
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- 300ml/1¼ cups lamb stock
- Salt and pepper
- Seasoned flour – about three tablespoons
- 25g/1 oz flat leaved parsley, roughly chopped
- Preserved quinces – about four slices – if you have them – otherwise a bit of fresh apple or pear… or some dried apricots
- White crusty bread to mop up the juices
- Peel the shallots and cut them in half (vertically, so they do not fall apart) and fry them in a big casserole for about five minutes until they begin to caramelise
- Put the seasoned flour in a bowl and coat the meat
- Brown the meat and add the garlic for a couple of minutes, then pour in the vermouth, the pomegranate molasses and the allspice
- Add the stock, bring to the boil and taste – add more salt and pepper if necessary
- Reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of hours
- About five minutes before serving add the preserved quinces
- Serve in deep bowls, top with the parsley.