Cooking vacations - An Israeli Winter Casserole
Winter is not coming this year. The global changes in weather are sharply felt here in the Middle East. The days are warm and pleasant – which makes us a good, attractive destination for a culinary vacation and for escaping the cold – while the evenings are cool. We're having very few rainy days. So for us, a winter day is a major cause for celebration! Such a winter day calls for spending time with the vaporous scents of long cooking. It's worth the wait, I can promise you! You may be asking yourself what's a casserole doing in an East-Mediterranean kitchen. Well, this is the beauty and the uniqueness of the Israeli cuisine. Indeed, the casserole is a classic European dish, brought to us by Jews who immigrated from countries in Eastern Europe, but since its arrival here, the casserole has “met” spices from other cuisines resulting in a true feast for the palate. Our local meat is mutton, so it will be the main feature of the casserole. It will be accompanied by excellent roots, local spices and wine. And in order to complete the picture, cooked chickpeas, hummus, will enrich the dish. After you've tasted it, we recommend getting under a good blanket and having a sweet afternoon nap.
Lamb shanks and roots Casserole
- Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.
- Heat the oil in a flame-proof casserole or oven-proof pan with a lid, over high heat. Add the lamb shanks and fry, turning occasionally, until golden-brown on all sides.
- Add the vegetables, the herbs and the spices.
- Add the wine and let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the stock and the pepper. Cover tightly with foil and then with the lid, and cook in the oven for 2 hours.
- Remove the casserole from the oven, and add a little more water if needed. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper, add chickpeas, then cover the casserole again and return it to the oven for another hour.
Remove the casserole from the oven and make sure the lamb is moist and almost falling off the bone. If you think that it's not quite ready, return it to the oven for another 15 minutes and check again.