Tava tender lovin’ lamb

How do you cook-melt-in-your-mouth, falling-off-the-bone meat??

Beats the hell outta me!

After years and years and YEARS of fighting with my oven and overcooking every cut of meat ever invented, I was about to give up. I really was. I felt all those TV chefs, who I have spent most of the Saturday mornings of my adult life watching, were lying to me. Cheaper cuts my arse, they worked no better than the expensive ones. I just didn’t get it.

Sometimes I blamed my lack of roasting prowess on the fact I was (am) normally quite hungover for my Saturday Kitchen Live marathons, and hence found (find) it difficult to absorb many, or in fact, any details beyond thinking stuff looks yummo.  Then, for a while I went through a phase of blaming my oven, stupid oven.

Now I realise patience is the key. Lots and lots and lots of patience. And not being hungry when you start, that’s also important. If you begin to feel peckish, resist the urge to turn up the oven; instead pour a glass of wine and go stalk someone on Facebook, or whatever it is you usually do to distract yourself. Temperature knob twiddling will not yield melt in your mouth meat, no sir.

This recipe is from Tessa Kiros’ wonderful book Falling Cloudberries. I heart her style of cooking so much; it’s simple, totally unpretentious, and unbelievably delicious.

Tava – Cypriot baked lamb and potatoes with cumin and tomatoes

Makes enough for 6

Ingredients

2 red onions, very roughly chopped
about 9 medium potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 kg (2 ¼ lb) lamb, cut into large chunks
4 tbsp fresh flat-leave parsley
3 tsp (heaped) of cumin seeds
½ cup olive oil
5 tomatoes, cut into thick slices
3 tbsp butter
salt and pepper

I love a good toss-everything-in-a-dish-and-hey-presto-you-have-dinner dinner, and this one is about as good as they come.

Preheat your oven to 180 °C. In a deep baking dish, mix together well the onion, spuds, lamb, parsley, cumin and olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper. Layer the tomato slices across the top of this mixture; season these with a little salt and dot with the butter. Tessa then says to put about ½ a cup of water around the sides of the dish, I use less but I guess that depends on how juicy your tomatoes are. I think a good idea is to add a little less; you’re always able to add more at a later stage if you think the dish needs it.

Next, cover with foil and bake for about 2 hours, gently shaking or tilting the dish from time to time to make sure all the lovely juices are getting around. After 2 hours, remove the foil, spoon some of the juices over the top to make sure everything is moist, and bake for a further 45 minutes at about 200 °C. Turn the dish from time to time to ensure all the lovely spuds brown nice and evenly.

Allow the dish to sit for about 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven (it’ll be hard, but honestly I recommend trying it) and serve with a yummo green salad or some veggies and a hearty red.

Yumbolicious.

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