When stuck for meal ideas, one of my favourite ways to find inspiration is to look through Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries. You probably know the book, but if not it does pretty much what it says on the tin: a year in Nigel Slater’s kitchen. The reason I love it is because it’s a month by month and day by day account of seasonal recipes. You can pretty much go to the very day of the month and see what’s good to eat right now.
Also, the mixture of cuisines, levels of difficulty and prep time means that there’s something for every occasion. In the big man’s words, it’s “Fast food, slow food, big eats, little eats, quick pasta suppers, family roasts and even Christmas lunch. It is simply my stuff, what I cook and eat, every day. Nigel’s food — for you.”
Well this week when I had a bit of cooker’s block Nigel suggested that I try some lamb flatbreads, to which I replied, “On a Tuesday, Nige? But it’s 6.30 and I haven’t even started making the bread.” Nigel just looked at me and smiled that knowing smile. You know, this one:
As if to say, “it’s flatbread. It won’t take but a minute…” and I was off. As previously disclaimed I am no baker but the very essence of “flat” bread means that these little suckers are hard to mess up. Just combine the ingredients, leave to rise for an hour, shape and bake. My kind of baking. As for the rest, what’s not to like: lamb, good; cumin and coriander, good; mint yoghurt, good. Pile it all up and you’ve got yourself a very messy and very gratifying dinner. We had two each and then more flatbreads with houmous. Yes, we’re pigs.
Excuse the pictures of the finished lamb flatbreads. I promise you some lamb is hiding under all that rocket and mint. They are a bit blurry too. My good lens is in hospital at the moment. Normal service shall resume forthwith.
Adapted from Nigel Slater’s ‘The Kitchen Diaries’
For the flatbreads
- 500g strong white flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 7g sachet of dried yeast
- warm water
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the lamb marinade
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 6 black peppercorns
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 neck fillet of lamb
For the herby yoghurt
- a small bunch of coriander
- a couple of sprigs worth of mint leaves
- a few spoonful of thick yoghurt
- 1 large garlic of garlic, finely chopped
- mint leaves
- a lemon
It’s difficult to know what to do first really, because annoyingly both components of this meal have to sit doing nothing for an hour, leaving you more or less twiddling your thumb digits in-between. I went for the bread, my rationale being that if I got so famished that I couldn’t bear to wait any longer, the lamb would taste fine if a little under marinated. It’s up to you if you do the same – if you have hours to spare then it goes without saying that the longer you marinade the lamb the better it will be.
So for the flatbread… If you have a good blender, you can use your beater attachment to form the dough. Mine wasn’t up to the job so I used the kneading attachment of my hand whisk. You can obviously do it the good ol’ fashioned way too. Anyway, put the flour in a bowl along with the salt. Mix the yeast in a glass with a little warm water to form a paste then top up with more warm water to 350ml. Add this to the flour and salt and start to mix. Slowly add the olive oil and mix until you have a stiff dough.
Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and knead until it feels elastic and springy (ten minutes or so).
Once you’re happy with your dough put it back in the bowl, cover with a clean tea-towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for an hour or so.
Now get your lamb in the marinade. Put your cumin seeds, coriander seeds and peppercorns in a pestle and mortar and pound to dust.
Add the garlic and mash with the spices. Add a few glugs of evoo and stir. Massage the mixture into your lamb fillet and set aside for an hour or so to infuse.
Now you have a bit of time to kill. You can watch TV for a bit, call your mum perhaps? Um, and, er, you can spend approximately 2 minutes mixing your herby yoghurt.
Roughly chop your herbs and add to the yoghurt along with the chopped garlic. Done.
Preheat your oven to 240C. Once your dough has risen to about twice its original size separate the dough into 6 to 9 pieces (depending on how big you want your flatbreads). Stretch the dough to form the flatbread. Nigel describes them as slipper shapes, which I suppose is a fair description. Arrange on a baking tray and sprinkle with flour.
Bake in the hot oven for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 220C and continue to bake for another 5 minutes, or until the base of the bread sounds hollow when you tap it.
In the meantime, heat a griddle pan over a high heat until scorching hot. Season the lamb, then lay it on the pan and leave for a few minutes until brown and crispy. Turn and cook until each side is nicely brown. However be careful not to overcook the meat; you want the middle to still be nice and pink.
Once ready, leave to rest for a good five minutes while you season your rocket and mint leaves (in a bowl) with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Then slice thickly. Woof, look at that gorgeous meat.
Arrange the lamb on top of the warm flatbread, then scatter some rocket and mint on top. Finally drizzle with the herby yoghurt and, if you like, sprinkle some hot smoked paprika on top. The idea is to wrap the flat around the lamb et al, but my bread was too fat and my filling to plentiful to manage that really. Messy, but might fine.