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Gascony Lamb Casserole

2 1/2 pounds lamb cut into 1 in chunks
8 ounces pork belly cut into 1 in -- chunks
6 ounces dried cannellini beans
1 olive ciabatta
2 Spanish onions
24 cloves garlic
olive oil
2 50 g tins anchovy fillets
3/4 pint red wine
1 284 ml fresh chicken stock
green vegetable
French bread to serve
salt & pepper


You will need a large frying pan and an earthenware casserole with a lid.

Preheat the oven to 300F.

Start the recipe the day before it is needed by bringing the beans to the boil in plenty of water (do not add salt) and simmering for 10 minutes. Drain the beans and discard the cooking water. Put the beans back into at least 4in of fresh, cold water and leave them to soak overnight.

Reduce the ciabatta loaf to rough breadcrumbs. Peel the onions and chop into 1/2in pieces. Peel all 24 garlic cloves - boring but worth it in the end! Pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large, heavy frying pan and saut the onions (not the garlic) over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until they have taken on some color. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions from the pan and put into a large earthenware casserole.

Sprinkle salt lightly and grind black pepper lavishly over the chunks of lamb. Add some more olive oil to the frying pan, turn the heat up high and in 2 or 3 batches sear the lamb cubes quickly on all sides. Remove each batch to the casserole as soon as it has browned. You might need to add a little more oil to the frying pan as you go along, but remember to heat it well before adding the lamb. Once all the lamb has been browned, put the frying pan to one side for a moment while you add the garlic clove and whole anchovy fillets to the casserole, tucking them well down into the layers of meat.

Return the frying pan to a high heat and 'deglaze' it by adding the red wine and bringing it to a fast boil for 3 minutes, while vigorously scraping all the browned sediment into the wine. Now add the stock and continue cooking for a further 2 minutes after the liquid returns to the boil. Now pour everything from the pan into the casserole. Give it a good stir, put the lid on and place in the slow preheated oven for about 2 hours, until the meat and beans are both very soft and tender.

When the casserole is cooked remove it from the oven and turn the grill on to a high setting. Dredge the breadcrumbs over the lamb in a thick layer and trickle a little olive oil over the top. Place under the grill for a minute or two until you have a golden brown crust. Serve with a crisp green vegetable and warm French bread.




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