So in a month, Christmas will already be gone and New Year's Eve will be looming over us. Tonight we have El Clásico, it's getting dark early and it's pretty cool outside. In other words, today's the perfect day for my spicy Mediterranean lamb stew: a warming, filling classic that's perfect for late autumn. I'm no Keith Floyd but I'd bet anyone who,likes lamb and spicy stuff would love this. It's a bit of a mishmash of different bits and bobs. It's probably not as good as a proper caldereta Manchega (a dish so good, it seems to be banned from restaurants), but paired with a bit of mash or even half a baguette, it's a spicy-yet-rural heart warmer.
What you need for the recipe:
500g lamb neck (this recipe is perfect for the stronger-tasting lamb we normally get here in Spain. Bulkier, milder Devon or Welsh lamb is delicious but better for roasting, in my opinion)
1 large red pepper
Some white wine (1/2 a bottle – I used cheap 2005 Raimat Chardonnay)
The best golden-coloured olive oil you can afford (I use Veá extra virgin olive oil from Lleida. It's utterly exquisite.)
400g cooked chickpeas (in a jar, normally)
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
2 small red chili peppers
Salt, pepper and bay leaves
About 2 hours
How to make it:
Chop up the meat, onion, pepper and chilli. Heat a generous portion of delicious golden olive oil in a decent, heavy-based saucepan or casserole and throw the lamb into it. Seal the lamb and then take it out of the pan with one of those spoons with holes in. Put it in a bowl so you don't lose precious juices.
You may need to add a drop more of your terrifyingly expensive oil here. That's fine: never be afraid of using a bit more oil. Now throw the onion in, fry it then after a few minutes chuck the pepper and chili in too. Fry them all together for a few minutes. Season them a bit too. Then put the lamb (and any juices) back, adding two bay leaves and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Stir it up.
Next, pour in about 1/3 to 1/2 of a bottle of white wine. Keep the heat high. Reduce the wine for about 15 minutes or so. Pour yourself and your partner/friends a glass at the same time: you must use wine you'd be able to drink normally, so here's your chance to prove that you're not cheating.
Now you add the canned chopped tomatoes (you could use fresh: I do for bolognese but Can Rot-Xardá brand tomatoes are v. good – just stay away from supermarket own-brand crap). Give it all a good stir, cook on a high heat for about 5 min and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for approx 1 hour. Stir it from time to time if you like.
After 1 hour, add the drained (but not washed) chickpeas. Cook for another hour (you could reduce this to 30 min without losing too much quality).
Serve with aforementioned mashed potatoes, parsnips, peas, baguette, rice or whatever you have lying around that needs finishing. A decent red wine will accompany it well. Força Barça!