A newspaper that recently asked me for a recipe and a few pieces of advice on lesser-fancied cuts, decided not to use the recipe I submitted. I was pretty bummed about that. Forget the fact that they asked me for input and then ignored it. Forget that. They had their reasons, I suppose. I was more bummed because the talented photographer that shot the dish never got her pic in a national newspaper. And she deserved it.
Nikki Albertyn is one to watch. As a stylist and a photographer her star is on the rise and I’m tipping her for big things. With a killer eye, Nikki has that exciting skill set where the lines between design and cooking blur. Photographer, stylist, cook. Triple threat. You could say she likes all things aesthetically superior. You could also say she likes nice stuff.
Check out her pic below for my sherry-vinegar braised lamb neck risotto. (I’ve thrown in the recipe too). You might also want to check out this link for an event she’s hosting in Stellenbosch.
Nikki Albertyn. Remember that name, people.
Lamb neck risotto:
Recipe (serves 4):
- olive oil
- 2 whole lamb necks (leave whole if your pot is big enough, otherwise get your butcher to slice them into discs)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped shallots, or small onions
- 1/2 cup chopped leeks
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 cup sherry vinegar
- 1 litre homemade vegetable or chicken stock; more as needed (alternatively, just add water if you need)
- 1/2 cup capers, to garnish
- A few high-quality anchovies, to garnish
- One lemon, peeled, to garnish
- Parmesan, grated, to garnish.
Heat the oven to 140 Degrees Celsius. In a deep pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season the lamb neck with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides; transfer to a plate. Pour off all but a few tablespoons of fat from the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, leeks, celery and carrots to the pan. Cook until the vegetables are tender and just starting to brown. Stir in the garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook one minute more. Add the vinegar and simmer until it reduces to about half a cup.
Return the meat to the pot, and add enough stock to barely cover. (Use the water if you need to). Bring to a gentle simmer on the stovetop, then transfer the pot, uncovered, to the oven.
Braise in the oven, basting and turning the meat occasionally for 4 – 4 1/2 hours. The lamb is done when they’re tender enough to cut with a fork and the meat easily comes away from the bone.
Transfer the lamb to a plate, let the liquid cool, and spoon off any fat. (Meanwhile, strain the liquid and return to the pot.) Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Shred the meat from the bones and roughly chop.
When ready to serve, warm the meat in the sauce, basting frequently.