Lamb, Stew

Rich Turkish lamb stew with aubergine purée (Hunkar begendi)

Rich Turkish lamb stew with aubergine purée (Hunkar begendi)

Serves: 4

We have been watching Rick Stein’s inspiring cooking tour – Venice to Istanbul – over the Christmas Break.

We’ve streamed an episode or two a week as a treat after dinner and other than dozens of plans to spend months of our lives travelling Greece, Croatia and Turkey, we’ve also picked up some pretty amazing recipes to try.

When Rick cooked this Turkish stew, he was pretty taken aback by it, especially the aubergine purée.

It is incredible.

It is a whole new chapter in stews for me with a unique, earthy, rich, creamy heat; literally, as good as stews get. So much so that I am breaking the aubergine purée out as its own post.

It is a comparable to my favourite pan fried polenta as the base for a rich braise or stew.

There is a little bit of prep work in it, though this is an awesome stew.

10/10.

Ingredients

For the red pepper paste

600gm red peppers (3 – 4 red peppers)
50gm tomato paste
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

For the aubergine purée

4 medium aubergines
30gm butter
30gm plain flour
380ml full-fat milk (we added a dash or two of pouring cream in addition)
75gm parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, juice only
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the lamb stew

4 tbsp olive oil
850gm boned lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm pieces
1 tbsp red pepper paste
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 green finger chilli, sliced
1 green pepper, seeds removed and sliced
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
200ml hot water
Chopped flat leaf parsley to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.

For the red pepper paste

  1. Roast the peppers for 30 minutes until dark and softened. Transfer to a bowl and cover with clingfilm and leave until cool enough to handle.
  2. Remove the charred skins, stalks and seeds.
  3. In the blender, blitz the peppers with the remaining ingredients; store for up to a week in the fridge.

For the aubergine purée

  1. Roast the aubergines whole for 30 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Peel, chop and mash well using a fork.
  2. In a pan over a medium-heat, make a roux: melt the butter and add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the milk and stir until you have a thick white sauce.
  3. Mix in the aubergine, cheese and lemon juice. Season with the salt and pepper and keep warm.

For the lamb stew

  1. Warm half the olive oil in a large casserole pan over a high-heat and brown the lamb in batches.
  2. When browned, return all the lamb to the pan and add the red pepper and tomato pastes, the remaining olive oil, onion, garlic, chilli and green pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until softened.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and the hot water. Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, cover with a lid and allow to cook slowly for 1 – 1½ hours.

Reduce the gravy to a thick consistency and serve ladled over the aubergine purée, scatter the chopped parsley.

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