Monday, January 9, 2017

The Joy and Agony of Leftovers


Sometimes I’m thrilled when I open the fridge and see nicely wrapped packages of leftovers.  “Ah,” I think to myself.  “Dinner is going to be easy tonight.  Thank goodness I have a microwave.”

Other times I cringe.  “Oh, no!  Not more turkey.”

This Christmas produced a lot of leftovers from the leg of lamb I cooked Christmas Eve.  We had a multitude of company, so I cooked mussels and grilled lamb.  Everyone ate the mussels but not much of the lamb.  Well, they ate the rare slices and left the rest. 

I’m not a fan of well-done lamb, so I had to be creative.  At times like this, I turn to Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery, a 200-page book full of delicious dishes.  That’s where I found a recipe for Lamb with Spinach.

It wasn’t a very exciting-sounding main dish.  It called for uncooked lamb, but I figured I’d just cook it less.  Also, I didn’t have any spinach.  But I did have beet greens—the greenery attached to raw beets—and that’s almost like spinach. 

I adapted the recipe to the ingredients I had and added lots of spices.  Less than an hour later we were eating a very tasty lamb stew.  Too bad there’s none left for dinner tonight.
Beet Greens
Spicy Lamb Stew – serves 3-4 (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil 
6 whole black peppercorns 
3 whole cloves 
3 cardamom pods 
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped 
2 teaspoons chopped garlic 
1-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped 
1 - 1 1/2 pounds cooked lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes 
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
Few dashes cayenne pepper 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3 tablespoons plain yogurt 
1/4 cup milk or water 
Beet greens from 3 beets, washed and roughly chopped (or 1 pound fresh spinach or
            10-oz box frozen spinach) 
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  When hot, put in the peppercorns, cloves and cardamom pods.  Stir for a few seconds.  Add the onions, garlic and ginger and stir and fry until the onions soften. 
Add the meat, cumin, coriander cayenne pepper and salt and stir until well mixed.  Add the yogurt and milk and stir again. 
When the mixture returns to a boil, add the beet greens (or spinach), stir and cover tightly.  Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until the greens have cooked.  Serve immediately.  The whole spices are not meant to be eaten, so remove them or ask diners to remove them.
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