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Lamb Shoulder, Orecchiette pasta & Cavelo Nero and Pork Belly & Spiced Plum Sauce

Lamb Shoulder, Orecchiette pasta & Cavelo Nero and Pork Belly & Spiced Plum Sauce

AFTER eating your own body weight in turkey and ham, it’s always nice to hunker down and cook something a little different that will last for a few days. Lamb and pork belly are a delicious alternative to the usual meats we eat around Christmas and make for really warming, hearty dishes.

The lamb shoulder dish is full of amazing herbs and spices that really wake up the senses, while the pork belly recipe makes for a really rich, festive meal.

:: Lamb Shoulder, Orecchiette pasta & Cavelo Nero (or cabbage)

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

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600g lamb shank

4 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 onion, finely diced

1 celery heart, chopped

2 bay leave, crushed

4 sprigs rosemary, destalked

2 pinch chilli flakes

4 anchovies, tinned

220g orecchiette pasta

2.5l chicken stock

50g cavelo nero, rough chopped

Grated pecorino to your taste

Extra virgin olive oil to garnish

Salt and pepper

Method:

Start by seasoning the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a deep pan on a medium to high heat. Once the pan is hot, place the lamb shanks in and brown to sear. Once browned, remove and set to one side.

Next, place the onions and celery into pan the with a pinch of salt and reduce the heat. Add in the bay leaves and rosemary then cover with a lid and cook for ten minutes until tender.

Once the vegetables are translucent, add the garlic, chilli and anchovies and cook for one minute then add the lamb back in and pour over the chicken stock, bringing to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and leave to simmer for two–and–a–half hours until the lamb is tender and starts to fall off the bone.

When tender, take the lamb out of the pan and leave aside to cool. Remove the meat from the bone and remove any fatty tissue and slice the remaining meat. Before returning to the pan, skim the surface of the sauce with a kitchen utensil and discard any residue.

Now place the orecchiette in a pan of lightly salted water and boil for 9 to 12 minutes until al dente. Add the lamb back to the pan with the vegetables and stock, then add the cavelo nero and pasta al dente and cook for a further 30 to 60 seconds until the cavelo nero is wilted.

Divide among bowls and serve with grated pecorino and a splash of olive oil.

:: Pork Belly & Spiced Plum Sauce (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp sea salt

1kg boneless pork belly, scored across skin from side to side

Plum sauce:

400g ripe plums, stoned and quartered

90g light brown sugar

125ml red wine vinegar

3 whole dried chillies

1 star anise

1 stick cinnamon

Method:

Preheat oven to 180C. If the pork belly isn’t already scored, score from side to side and rub with olive oil, then salt. Place skin side down on a baking tray and roast for 1 hour.

After an hour, increase the temperature of oven to 200C, turn the meat over and cook for a further 1 hour and 20 minutes. The skin should be golden and crispy, if not leave in oven a little longer. When golden, remove and cover with tin foil then leave to rest, slice and serve.

To make the sauce place the sugar, vinegar and spices into a pan, preferably non–stick and set to a high heat. After a few minutes, leave to a simmer then add in the plums and cook for ten minutes while stirring continuously.

The plums should be soft and broken with a reduced sticky sauce. Serve on the side of the pork belly.

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