Byzantine Lamb

Here in the UK, daylight savings time ended over the weekend (or started? I don't know how DST works, but we fell back an hour), and now I am getting up during daylight hours but getting off work after work and so far that is not my favourite thing. This is my third Scottish autumn/winter, but I still haven't gotten used to how quickly the seasons change. Living this far north (Edinburgh is on the same latitude line as Alaska!) means that when winter comes, it comes on fast, with the days shrinking until they're only a few hours long. Conversely, it also means that the summer days are so long they seem endless... it's a nice tradeoff, once you get used to the short winter days. But the first few are always a brutal trade, and it doesn't help that the UK, for some reason, does time-changes on a different calendar than the rest of the world, meaning it happens two weeks before my birthday, instead of the weekend of my birthday, like in the US. So, with the time change comes my desire for warm, hearty meals that are still relatively healthy, and thus enters Byzantine Lamb.

As previously discussed last time I made a lamb recipe from the box, we're not really big lamb eaters in the Cowan house. Unless it comes in a curry or in Greek food, we generally stay away from lamb, but not really for any good reason other than the fact that lamb done badly is really bad, whereas most other meats done badly are still, well, edible. While living Stateside, it was easy to avoid lamb-- I don't remember the grocery stores selling it, and try though I might, I never found a decent Greek restaurant in the last few US cities I lived in. Here in Scotland, though, lamb is everywhere. It's always on the menu at restaurants, it has as much space devoted to it at the grocery store as beef does, and, in a country that boasts more sheep (6 million) than people (5 million), it's a pretty ubiquitous dish.

So I've been excited about this Byzantine Lamb recipe for awhile: I mean, it comes from Byzantium, so how could I not be stoked about this? Judson, too, was totally into it until I revealed that it involves a can of tomato soup... at which point I lost him until the dish was on the table and he tasted it and realised how delicious it was. Don't let the weird inclusion of a can of soup deter you: this meal is delicious, and it includes a ton of veggies I usually can't find uses for, like aubergines/eggplants and bell peppers. Plus, because of how long it cooks, you can clean up the entire kitchen before you actually sit down to the meal, and then have minimal clean-up after dinner. We really enjoyed this meal, surprisingly. It makes enough for a good amount of leftovers, but it reheats pretty well, so we didn't mind (though we didn't fight about them the way we did with last week's chili and cornbread).

You can spice it up with sriracha if you're more into that, or just have it plain if that's how you roll. Next time we make it, we're going to swap out the can of soup for a can of tomato passata, but it's still delicious with the soup, and I'd still recommend it. Plus, when was the last time you ate something Byzantine for dinner?

P.S. The reverse of this recipe includes a coupon that expired in 1971. The fine print on the coupon begins 'Dear Mr. Grocer....,' so if I learn nothing else from this recipe project, it's at least nice to know how far women have come since the days of the 1970s, when they weren't even allowed to be grocers.

The verdict:

3 spoons out of five. Swap the soup for a can of tomatoes as noted above, and you can definitely boost this to 4 spoons.

The recipe:

Byzantine Lamb

the directions:

Sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper, then roast the lamb for 10 minutes at 200C/400F or until just barely cooked through, then set aside.
In a skillet, cook aubergines/eggplant and green pepper with garlic and thyme in butter until tender.
Add soup and lamb.
Bring to a boil, then stir in rice.
Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed.
Drizzle with lemon juice and serve with fresh lemon slices.

Yields 4 hearty servings.

the ingredients:

2 c aubergine/eggplant, cubed, from about 1 ½ medium aubergines
1/3 c green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp thyme (less if dried)
2 tbsp butter
1 can tomato soup
1 lb lamb, cut in strips
1 1/3 c rice
1 lemon, cut in slices