Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Spud Watch's last gasp

I felt suspicious at the beginning of August when I saw the spud field I have been watching being sprayed.  There are many potato fields in this part of the world and generally speaking the only attention they normally receive during the growing season is a jet of water, to make up for the lack of rain.  When I saw a tractor working its way up and down the field with two long arms extending out over the rows of plants, emitting a fine spray, I thought something was up.  A week or so later, once the plants had turned brown, there were a couple of signs at either end of the field to warn people not to walk on the land.  The plants were destined to become seed potatoes.  I assume the spray was to knock off any lurking bugs.

In due course they harvested the spuds, ready for them to fight another day next year and the field looked a bit sad.  It had held so much promise but I suppose potatoes have to come from somewhere and it is entirely reasonable that these should be seed potatoes!  Shame about the spray, it must have been loaded with chemicals.
The field is now showing a new haze of green.  Something else has been sown and already pushed through.  

The farmers are now harvesting the normal potato crops and you wouldn't need to stand in the middle of the village street for very long before having to jump aside for a gigantic tractor, with a whopping great trailer behind it, piled high with freshly dug spuds.  

My plan was to show a photo of the potatoes from our field and then I thought you might like a recipe to go with it.  When we were in Australia earlier this year I found a scrumptious recipe in one of the Sunday magazines.  The potatoes accompanied an easy peasy slow roast lamb recipe and it really is delicious.  Here it is.
2 - 2.5 kg leg of lamb, on the bone
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 tbspn dried oregano
1 tbspn olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1.5 kg new potatoes
5 anchovy fillets, torn
half tspn dried chilli flakes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
125 ml double cream
4 sprigs fresh thyme
15 g butter
3 tbspns freshly grated parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 220 centigrade
Put lamb into a roasting tin.  Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the oregano and lemon juice over the meat.
Drizzle with the olive oil.
Roast for 20 minutes, to seal and brown the meat
Add 250 ml (1 cup) water to the roasting tin.
Cover the tin with foil.
Reduce oven to 160 centigrade
Roast another 3.5 hours, basting every 30 minutes.

The original recipe didn't note this but I never add raw potatoes to any recipe because in my experience they don't cook well.  I always parboil them for a few minutes, just to the cooking process started.  I think it makes a world of difference, to parboil the new potatoes for a few minutes and then drain well.

After 3.5 hours cooking, remove the roasting tin from the oven.  
Pour off any roasting juices and set aside.
Arrange potatoes around the lamb and return to the oven for one hour.
Take out, remove lamb and set aside to rest.
Top potatoes with anchovies, garlic, and chilli.
Pour the cream into the roasting tin.  
Top with thyme, butter and grated cheese.
Increase oven to 200 centigrade and return potatoes to oven for 10 minutes.

Serve the lamb with the potatoes and either a green salad or some plain, steamed vegetables.


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