Monday, 16 January 2012

Aquarian Capretto con uva

NAME: _Aquarian Capretto con uva

500g of capretto (young goat) - leftover forequarter pieces or similar (see Notes)
several potatoes, whatever you have (see Notes)
1 turnip
1 small swede
2 medium carrots
1 large brown onion (see Notes)
500g red seedless grapes (see Notes)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (or chop up a tin's worth of fresh, discarding the liquid and seeds)
2 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp grape molasses
2 tbsp zartar (see Notes)

Peel the vegetables and cut into slices about 1cm - 2cm thick, boil in barely enough salted water for about five minutes.

In the meantime, slice the onion into rings about 1cm thick, put both the oils in a frypan, heat to smoking, and add the onions. Fry until the onion is cooked brown. Brush a casserole dish and its lid with some of the oil on the insides, then layer the onions on the bottom.

Drain the vegetables, rinse, add the tomato and return to medium/low heat. You may add salt to taste.

Fry the pieces of meat over high heat until browned evenly all over, take out with tongs and arrange in a layer over the onions, then sprinkle the zartar evenly and fairly thickly over the meat.  The vegetables can now be removed from the tomato sauce and arranged in a layer over the meat, then the tomato sauce poured over.

Strip the grapes from the stem and cut them in halves or chop/crush them so that all grapes are split at least once. Arrange them on top of the vegetables, and drizzle the grape molasses over.

Cover the casserole dish with the lid and put in an oven at 160 - 165 (low heat.) Check occasionally that it is slightly simmering, leave in oven for at least two, preferably three hours. After three hours, check that the grapes have begun caramelising, and remove the lid for a final 30 - 60 minutes, during which time you raise the heat slightly to 170 until done.

(Check once or twice to see if the liquid is all absorbed and evaporated, and when it is, leave for a further fifteen minutes, at which point the dish should be finished. What you're aiming for is slightly caramelised grapes on top, and the same for the onions and juices that ran to the bottom of the dish.)

Serve right away, with or without a side of crusty bread and butter.

Meat: I got a forequarter of capretto the ribs cut for chops, shoulder for a small roast, and other pieces cut about 5cm square by 2cm thick, bone in and not trimmed up too much - this dish is ideal for tougher cuts, bits that are left over from preparing fancier (but not tastier!) meals, etc. You can also use lamb or mutton for the dish. I prefer the taste of goat.
Potatoes: I had a Kipfler, a Nadine, and some unspecified pink potato, and just used them all. Use what you have to hand.
Onion: Prefer onions with thick layers for this - you're going to fry them brown, then slow roast them for a few hours, they need some body to them,
Grapes: I found red seedless to be the best because there'd be a LOT of seeds otherwise. But any deep red sweet grapes will do in a pinch.
Zartar: is a Middle Eastern mix of wild thyme, sumak, and sesame seeds. Any dried thyme or oregano would do if you can't get the zartar.

This is a dish I developed because I don't have much of a liking for older lamb and mutton, and what I had were zartar, grapes, and the vegetables. Much to my delight, the very first one worked perfectly and I just stuck to the same recipe.

The long slow cooking time in the oven on low heat makes the meat fall off the bones, while keeping the temperature low means the vegetables don't overcook. You can't hurry this dish - three to five hours is a good point to aim for.  You have some control over the timing by leaving the lid on the retain the liquid longer, but it can't really be done faster.

When the casserole dries off, the onions on the bottom and the grapes on the top will brown and caramelise, and the flavours develop.  Surprisingly enough, the process kills most of the wild thyme flavour, so don't be afraid of well and truly covering the meat.

The flavour is well worth the wait!


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