Slow cooked lamb neck fillet braised with onions, peppers and raisins. Lamb neck fillets get Middle Eastern flavour in this one-pot meat and vegetable oven casserole. It’s tender, it’s aromatic and there’s only one pot to wash up.
How to cook lamb neck fillet?
The rule with cheaper cuts of meat is to cook them quickly or forever. Searing the meat in a flash stops the fibres from contracting too much and becoming tough and, well – fibrous. That’s the method in the grilled lamb neck recipe – medium, pink and tender.
Another example for the flash-frying is the Thai beef salad recipe which uses a cheap cut of beef, bavette aka flank or skirt steak. It is massively underrated and when cooked right it’s so gorgeous, it can rival a choice fillet steak.
This time we’re at the other end of the spectrum: braising slow and low for hours. Since lamb neck is a modestly sized cut, all of two hours will suffice.
The selection of vegetables cooking with the lamb and providing the aromatic accompaniment is free fancy. I like Middle Eastern flavours with lamb so I included a bit of fruit, red peppers and a handful of raisins in the recipe on top of the usual onion, garlic and carrot.
One pot dish
It’s also the type of dish everyone adores: all in one pot. Eintopf, pot-au-feu, goulasch, gumbo, hotpot – it’s all about cooking your meat or seafood and your vegetables in the same pot, thus minimising washing up and saving energy.
Soups of course are the ultimate one-pot dishes, provided they have not been stupidly blended and pureed into baby food which is my pet hate. Stews, hotpots and casseroles usually involve meat but there are plenty vegetarian one-pot bakes as well, pulses, pasta or rice based.
How to braise meat
My braising skills I owe entirely to Samin Nosrat – and not just those. Thanks to her revelationary Salt Fat Acid Heat book, I’m a master-braiser now.
And it’s so easy: meat needs to be salted in advance, married with appropriate aromatics, seared in hot oil then covered with liquid and roasted in the oven for as long as it takes, depending on the kind of meat.
The pot can be covered or not, but the key is to turn the meat in the braise every half an hour or so. That makes absolutely perfect roast – yes, I know: the perfect roast is actually a braise.
My one-pot dish backstory
My Dad used to make this particular kind of one-pot dish. Whenever he was left to his own devices for cooking, he’d make for his dinner what would start off as chicken soup but then develop into a ‘more is more’ kind of thing. Chicken would go into the stockpot, with some aromatics and water.
Then Dad would experiment with seasoning: nothing was ever too hot so several chilies would end in the pot. Not an expert on spices, he’d open a jar, sniff, and decide whether to use it; aye being the more frequent decision than nay. Herbs were good: whatever was at hand in the salad drawer.
Later on he’d decide that cooking noodles separately to put in the broth was a waste of time and so they landed in the soup as a time-saving measure. If he was really on the roll – or getting very hungry while the soup was cooking – he might add a sliced potato, chopped carrots and/or parsnips.
I do remember one time he got really carried away and threw a good handful of rice in. To give him his due, he’d always eat it; complement himself profusely on his cooking skills and act very hurt if no one wanted to partake with him.
They don’t make cooks like my father anymore, audacious and experimenting; and nobody else makes the chicken soup like he did – and thank heavens for that.
More one pot dishes
Cassoulet is the ultimate one-pot comfort dish from southwestern France. Meat, beans, aromatics – all you need is a heel of crusty bread.
Gratins can be one-pot dishes too if they’re as hearty and tasty as the potato and cabbage one, herby and cheesy.
And for a vegetarian choice, here is the crispy roasted chickpeas casserole with grilled peppers.
More lamb recipes
As cheap as lamb neck but much less popular, unfairly so, is lamb breast. Here with grapes, seasonally autumnal.
For a special lamb supper, try lamb loin aka cannon of lamb wrapped in prosciutto and slow roasted.
Fancy a kebab? Make a doner at home: that’s Tom Kerridge’s homemade takeaway version.