January might be the month of New Year’s resolutions, renewing that gym membership, counting the calories and eating healthily. But, having been lucky enough to spend a few days back in England with my family, watching my mum force down what can only be described as green sludge (or in her words “liquidised Kermit the frog”) in the hope that it will release her “inner skinny gene”, I have confirmed my belief that January should be all about comfort food. The kind that keeps you feeling cozy when the temperatures drop even further and you might just be lucky enough to see the first scatterings of snow.
So here’s a recipe for those of you, like me, who seriously struggle to stick to a green sludge diet for more than 5 minutes. And for those of you with more willpower, consider this a way of rewarding yourself for sticking to your resolutions for a whole week!
This lamb cobbler has been our family favourite in the last few years. It has such great depth of flavour with a rich, fragrant sauce and lamb that melts in your mouth – you need this crowd-pleaser in your life! The cobbler topping really makes this dish, so ignore the extra calories and go for it, I promise you won’t regret it! Plus the scones make a great change from potatoes, and cooking them on top of the lamb means they soak up some of those amazing juices, yum!
You’ll probably notice soon enough that some of my all-time favourite dinners are the ones that you can just leave in the oven until you’re ready to eat, and this definitely falls under that category. No pressure to get timings right, no rushing around in the kitchen once your guests have arrived. It is the perfect kind of meal that allows you to sit back, relax and enjoy a stress free evening of entertaining or gives you that extra few hours on a Sunday to spend some quality time with your family.
I’ve got plenty more winter warmers to share with you, but I’m ALWAYS looking for new inspiration so go ahead and share your favourite casseroles / stews / cobblers in the comments below and let’s see what fun new ideas we can come up with!
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil (olive oil works fine if you don't have any)
- 200g bacon lardons or streaky bacon cut into small strips
- 900g lamb neck fillets cut into large chunks (lamb shoulder or leg work just as well for this though and are a little less pricey)
- 350g shallots, peeled and diced
- 350g small button mushrooms, wiped clean
- 5 carrots cut into large chunks
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 3 bay leaves
- Small bunch of thyme
- 350ml red wine
- 350ml lamb stock (or chicken)
- 1½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 350g self raising flour
- Thyme, rosemary and parsley, chopped (enough for 4 tbsp)
- 150g chilled butter
- 100ml milk
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- Salt and pepper
- 1 egg, beaten to glaze
- Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F
- In a heavy based oven-proof casserole dish, heat the oil over a medium-high heat and then fry the bacon. Once it is golden and crisp, add the chunks of lamb to the dish and brown them on all sides (don't worry about what might look like a sticky mess on the bottom of your pan, this is caramelisation and will add bags of flavour to your cobbler)
- Remove the bacon and lamb from the dish and place it back over a medium heat with a splash of olive oil. Add the shallots, mushrooms and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes until starting to colour
- Stir in the flour, then return the meat to the dish along with the bay leaves, thyme, red wine, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper, then cover and transfer to the oven for about an hour and a half, of until the lamb is tender and the sauce has thickened slightly
- While the lamb is in the oven, make the topping by mixing the flour, chopped herbs, butter, salt and pepper in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs
- Tip the mixture into a bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the milk and lemon juice (reserving a couple of tablespoons of milk). Use your hands to bring it all together to form a soft dough (if the dough is too hard, add the rest of the milk. If it feels sticky, add a small handful of flour)
- Tip the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out to about 1.5cm thick. Use a 7.5 cm / 3 in pastry cutter to cut the dough into rounds (collect up any trimmings, roll them out again and cut out more rounds until all of the dough has been used up)
- When you are ready to serve, heat the oven to 180°C / 355°F and arrange the scones around the edge of the dish (the sides should just be touching). Brush the scones with egg and place the dish in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the topping is golden brown
- If you're short on time, you don't absolutely have to brown the lamb at first, it still works really well if you skip this step (although of course it does always add that extra little kick of flavour)
- Get ahead: If you are making this the day before, cook the lamb for the first hour and a half, then remove from the oven, let it cool and store in the fridge overnight. You can even make the toppings ahead too and store them on a covered tray in the fridge overnight
- To freeze: You can freeze the casserole after the first hour and a half of cooking. The topping can be frozen before cooking, just wrap each scone in baking paper and foil. Defrost at room temperature before use