Last Saturday, we held a party. It was somewhere between a house party and a dinner party – a halfway house celebration between youth and adulthood, which seems pretty apt considering this Friday we get the keys to a three-bed cottage in the East Midlands.
But back to last Saturday afternoon, and the slow cooker humming, chicken braising, radishes pickling and beans bubbling. We were making tacos, proper tacos with orange braised pork; pilbil chicken and deep and spicy beans (for the vegans in the house). All talk of the EU had been quietened by Buena Vista Social Club and a very earnest pledge to move to Canada at the earliest opportunity, and – modesty aside – we turned out some of the best tacos I’ve eaten this side of Mexico. I mean, we even had pickled radishes.
Our guests, half expecting a bowl of pringles and a tub of thousand island dip, seemed to agree. But better than homemade tacos and pico de gallo was the fact that in the space of an evening, we’d become the couple who cooks. Feeders, if you will – and really, that’s all I want in life.
That’s where this story ends. As there’s zero photographic evidence of our venerable feast (and as everybody knows photos are needed to prove we all had a great time), I’ll move on to other, more carefully photographed things.
So say hello to Baked Stuffed Aubergines with Lamb and Apricot – an invented thing I made last night that turned out pretty good. As everyone knows, dried fruit is a kind of unavoidable bed buddy to lamb. Figs, prunes, raisins – they all offer a sweet richness that sits perfectly next to the earthy, fatty meat– but it turns out that tinned apricots in fruit juice are an admirable substitute to the dried variety, and half a tin gets blended into the sauce alongside pomegranate molasses and Moorish spices. They’re really good. Please try them.
I’ll come back later this week with a life update, because if the three-bed cottage in the East Midlands wasn’t enough of a clue, things are getting pretty crazy around here.
Baked Stuffed Aubergines with Apricot
500g lamb mince
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
300g tinned apricots in fruit juice, plus a couple extra
Handful of parsley
1tsp ground coriander
large pinch dried crushed chillies
1tsp paprika dulce
1tbsp pomegranate molasses
1. Preheat the oven to 200C
2. Cut each aubergine lengthways and score the flesh in a criss cross pattern. Rub generously with olive oil and salt and bake for 30 minutes, until the flesh is tender.
3. Meanwhile, gently fry the chopped onion, garlic and spices in olive oil for ten minutes. Add the mince and cook until browned.
4. Blitz or finely chop the apricots, tomatoes and half the parsley. Add to the lamb a long with a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses. Season and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. When the aubergines are ready, scoop out the flesh, give it a chop and stir it into the lamb. Now fill the aubergine skins with mixture and top with some more chopped apricots. Bake for 10 minutes. Now add a good drizzle of pomegranate molasses, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and a dollop of greek yoghurt.