03 April 2006

Leftovers in style

Whenever we make the traditional Icelandic lamb dinner (small potatoes, red cabbage, rabarbarasulta) there is always a huge chunk of lamb leftover. We mastered Hlölli @ home sandwiches, and have done toasted lamb on salads, but we still had a chunk left on Saturday evening and needed a new idea. J suggested soup for Sunday, so I hit my recipe book collection for inspiration. Mind you, the only recipes I actually follow are for baked goods, so anything was worth checking out. I found a lamb chop with white beans recipe in a Williams Sonoma book that sounded great, so I sent J out for provisions. The result was so incredibly good I have to write it down (partly in hopes that I'll be able to make it again sometime). Unfortunately, as is always the case with my cooking style, I haven't got a clue exactly how much of what went in, so all measurements and times are quite approximate.

Ingredients list:
2 cups leftover lamb, cubed (maybe it was more.. not sure)
1 small box regular button mushrooms, cut in similar cubes as the lamb
1 variety pack fresh mushrooms, cubed (J went crazy at Hagkaup and brought this back- good choice!)
Half an onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 can white cannellini beans
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup stock, made with an antique vegetable bouillon cube from the US
1/2 liter mushroom stock, made from a new Icelandic bouillon cube
a few dried Czech forest mushrooms (or dried mushroom mix from the store, or none at all)
olive oil
fresh pepper

To make it:
Heat a large pot on medium heat. Add some olive oil and heat that a little too. Add onions and garlic and cook until they start to go translucent on you and make the house smell like onions (good start folks!). Add mushrooms (all but the dried ones) and season with the rosemary and pepper. Let these cook and swap flavors for a while, stirring occasionally, and add the juice from the can of beans if you need more liquid. When the mushrooms are still firm but partly cooked (as I said, precise measurements!) add the beans and the lamb. Let them share the pot for a while, and heat through. Keep stirring! When the lamb goes fragrant on you, add the tomatoes, and the stock. Stir it up, lower the heat some, and cover for 10-15 minutes or so- you want some simmer in there so flavors can swap.

At this point it seemed to need more liquid, so I added another cup or two of hot water, which I dropped the Czech mushrooms into for some extra flavor. Those shared the pot for a while, then I added a bit more pepper, and called it quits. It was exceptional- the lamb flavor had bloomed in the soup, and since it had been seasoned already, there were all these new dimensions to the broth. Each spoonful was full of morsels- sliced garlics, wild mushrooms, and lamb. I can't believe it was inspired by a languishing leftover. There are leftovers, and I expect it will be even better after the getting-to-know-you session in the fridge.

While the soup was simmering, I also took two old hot-dog buns from the Hlölli @ home evening, cubed them, then tossed in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and my Trader Joe's 21-season salute (probably any mix would make them great). These, toasted in a 200c oven for about 11 minutes, are impossibly good croutons. I made batch on Saturday morning that never saw a salad. They were so good I kept sneaking a few here and there, and by Sunday evening there were about 10 lonely croutons left, out of a 2-baking sheet batch. They're so good I want to let bread go stale in the house so I can make them, but I will have to put them in a box religiously after they've been made, or J will never get a single one.

Ship sighting: Sundays like yesterday are great days to live by the sea. The sky was bright, the breeze stirred whitecaps, and the air was just right for raven flight. I saw the whale-watching ships go out and return, a few fishing boats coming home, and a four-crane cargo ship headed to Akranes. I'm not sure what ship that one was, but while I was looking for it, I discovered that there's a kelp-harvesting boat called Karlsey docked up there. It's owned by a company that specializes in seaweed meal production. Apparently, rockweed is good for plants as well as livestock and pets (only 1/4 teaspoon for your cat though!). If you're into that kind of thing, pick up a bag today, and think of the kelp-choked shores of Breðafjörður as you dish it out to Fluffy.


tsduff said...

Okay, I've printed off the entire receipe (drooling all the while I might add)... now just waiting until Easter when the chunk of lamb will be roasted. We don't have much in the way of leftovers with the leg of lamb, as the kids and I can't get enough the first night we serve it, but I shall try to save enough to create this yummy (non-Icelandic) concoction of yours. As for the croutons, ha ha ha ha! I thought I was the only one to have those problems with disappearing batches :-D Is olive oil in good supply over there? I use it almost exclusively.

Anonymous said...

Well, this has to be commented on.No two leftovers are quite the same, since you never know what will be on hand. My beloved mother could feed eight of us on good stuff and "hardly enough in the larder" stuff. No two dishes were alike. If you asked how she'd prepared a particularly luscious dish, she could vaguely tell you what was in it but never the portions, other than, "A little
buttermilk, not quite a half cup..." etc.Croutons are a yummy food to have on hand. We rarely get to the stale bread stage. My Mom also would bake her own bread. If she hadn't had time to let it rise before meal time, she would fry rolled handfulls of half-risen dough. You might like that on a chilly spring afternoon."Fried dough." Love, MB

ECS said...

no olive oil here... no place to store it in our igloos! Seriously though, this is one of the richest countries in the world- we've got pretty much every product available in the States, except Cap'n Crunch. The soup may have not been an Icelandic recipe, but the ingredients were all purchased (or able to be purchased) here. This seems to be a common misconception about Iceland though, and one J and I are trying REALLY hard to eliminate!

MB! Welcome to the comments! Thanks for writing :-). My mom also was a champion at feeding us creatively when it came to leftovers. My favorite was the mashed-potato pancakes. It was the only leftover I and my three brothers ever fought over. That bread thing sounds good, but I've not yet made the foray into bread-making. It seems like such a complicated thing that I've generally stuck to only making biscuits.