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Lamb with pomegranate marinade March 21, 2010

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Lamb.
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I had read about pomegranate-braised beef cheeks and for some reason my brain morphed that into beef marinated in pomegranate. I got all excited and bought a pomegranate before I realised that the recipe wasn’t what I wanted at all, but I decided to press on and make up my own marinade to go with my pieces of lamb backstrap.

To start with, I removed all the pomegranate seeds. There are several instructions and techniques out there for removing the seeds, but I find the easiest way is to cut the crown of the pomegranate off, then cut the pomegranate in half. If you are sensible you can then put the halves into some water, break the pomegranate up under the water, and the seeds will fall to the bottom of the container. You can then remove the rind and fleshy/membrane-y parts. If you are not sensible, like me, you can follow the same technique but without using the bowl of water to contain everything. This will result in pomegranate juice shooting all over your counter tops but for me part of the fun is seeing where the juice goes! It is less fun cleaning up the juice afterwards…

Once I’d removed all the seeds, I set about preparing the marinade. I took about 3/4 of the seeds, and squished them so they released their juices. Although usually the skin and pulp of the pomegranate is discarded, I boiled them in some water and ended up with lightly flavoured pomegranate water. While not juice by any stretch of the imagination, it gave a bit more depth to the marinade when mixed in with the juice from the seeds. I added oil, garlic, salt and pepper, cumin, and some chives. I left the lamb to marinate overnight in the fridge.

The next day, I took the lamb out of the fridge and poured the whole lot of marinade (and the lamb) into a baking dish. I decided to cook it with all the marinade to further allow the flavours to infuse the lamb. I put the baking tin in the oven at 180 degrees and set about making the vegetable bake I had decided was accompanying the lamb.

I sliced up zucchini, sunburst squash, onions and parsley. I layered these one by one in the pan, and then added salt, pepper and the parsley. Then I added my secret ingredient: two icecubes of lamb stock. When I had last made lamb shanks, I had made them in a mixture of coffee, chilli and spices inspired by the chilli I made a while ago, instead of the more traditional red wine and vegetables. The resulting stock was delicious, and I had tipped some into an icecube tray so I could retrieve individual portions as I required.

Why yes, I do have bottle-shaped icecube trays! Somewhat ironically, they were the ones I used for the stock, leaving my drink glasses sadly unadorned and requiring use of normal shaped (water) icecubes. Unless people want lamb broth in their drinks, in which case I am more than happy to oblige!

Anyway, back to the veggie bake. I added another lot of the zucchini, sunburst squash and onion layers, and topped it off with more parsley, salt and pepper and breadcrumbs. This also went into the oven, uncovered to allow the breadcrumbs to go crispy.

So: the final result. The lamb ended up a little overcooked but it was still tender and delicious. It had absorbed the flavours of the marinade very well and had a little citrus kick from the pomegranate juice. The lamb contrasted nicely with the veggie bake, and the vegetables had absorbed the lamb stock, again adding more depth of flavour. I added some of the remaining pomegranate seeds to the lamb to complete it.

Even though this recipe came about quite by accident with my addled brain misremembering something else entirely, I was very happy with the outcome. I was glad that the pomegranate flavour came through with the lamb, and didn’t get lost in the other flavours. I hope that next time my brain translates a recipe into something else entirely, it is as successful as this was!

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