by Sally Clarke from First Put on Your Apron © Sally Clarke
Photography: Lizzie Mayson
700g lamb neck fillets – ask the butcher to trim most of the fat
1tbsp plain flour
½tsp ground cumin
½tsp ground coriander seeds
1tsp finely chopped rosemary
1 large onion, peeled
1 stick celery
½ bulb fennel
1 large carrot, peeled
1 orange, peel and juice
500ml chicken, lamb, beef or vegetable stock
1 glass wine, any colour
100g brown lentils, Puy or Castelluccio are ideal
1tbsp roughly chopped celery leaves
1tbsp roughly chopped parsley
Plain yogurt or sour cream and/or bread of your choice
Heat the oven to 170°C/fan oven 150°C/mark 4. Cut the neck fillets into equal-sized pieces approximately the size of walnuts. Place these in a bowl, sprinkle with the flour, spices and chopped rosemary and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, then jumble together.
Cut the vegetables into evenly sized pieces, sliced or cubed as you wish.
Place the orange peel and juice in a small saucepan with the stock and wine. Bring to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat and leave on one side.
Place the meat in an ovenproof dish, scatter over the lentils and cover with the vegetables. Pour the hot liquid over, then cover with a tight-fitting lid or piece of aluminium foil.
Cook in the oven for 80-90 minutes or until the meat and lentils are tender and the juices flavourful. The easiest way to check is to carefully dig into the bottom of the dish and pull out a piece of meat. Try to pull it apart with a fork – if it is resistant, return to the oven and continue to cook for a few more minutes. If the level of juice has reduced below the level of the meat, top up with a little more warm stock or water from a kettle.
When the meat is cooked to your liking, turn off the oven and warm the plates or bowls inside.
Allow the braise to sit for 10 to 20 minutes in the cooling oven before skimming away any fat that may have risen to the surface.
To serve, roughly chop the celery or parsley leaves and stir into the dish, gently mixing the lentils and vegetables with the meat. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, or simply with warm crusty bread.
Alternatively, the braise may be left to cool completely and then covered tightly. It will last well in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, spoon into a wide saucepan, add a splash of stock or water if needed, and cover with a lid. Place over a medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer for 5-10 minutes. When piping hot, finish with the herbs and serve as above.