Most blogs portray beautifully photographed meals which go well. I like to think I add a little everyday reality, domestic chaos and personal incompetence to the mix. Regular readers will know that I have bought half a lamb and I am in the process of working my way through it a meal at a time.
Having started with the bits and pieces and then the offal I planned a meal for three using some of the loin chops. I have a favourite recipe using sweet potatoes and harissa which I thought might be fun to adapt slightly.
I usually have orange-fleshed sweet potatoes but on this occasion I bought white fleshed ones for the first time. I also bought some fresh mint, and stumbled across some baby peppers which looked like fun.
In my head I was going to do the chops with baked sweet potato but with a fresh yoghurty minty dressing and then have some mini stuffed peppers as a side.
I roasted the sweet potatoes as usual – always using a baking tray liner as the sweet potatoes always “leak” and I could do without the tricky washing up. I then started on the stuffing for the peppers. I’d got some chorizo from Kenilworth Free Range and so I chopped one up small and mixed it with three finely chopped onions and slowly fried them. I love this combination and playing with the heat is part of the fun. These chorizo were quite lightly spiced and so I added some garlic, red chilli and paprika to raise the stakes a little. A check round the fridge found half a Little Gem lettuce and so I chopped it up and added to the mix. Finally I added some dried breadcrumbs and some vegetable stock and played with the liquid until I’d got quite a firm mixture. I’d hoped that the breadcrumbs would swell and bind during cooking but also that the mix was sticky enough to adhere the lids on.
It was at this point that the meal took a different turn in two ways. Firstly I suddenly realised that my daughter wasn’t around and hadn’t confirmed she’d be in for dinner. This suddenly meant potentially I was going to waste some lamb chops and have loads of vegetables. I decided to leave the chops for another time and make a couple of dressings for the sweet potato and make the peppers the feature.
This wasn’t quite as easy as I had planned. I always struggle to make even normal peppers stand up properly and retain their covers. These little blighters have no sign of a flat bottom to stand on and so I spent some time wrestling them to get them holding each other up in a little casserole dish. I have no idea how to make this easier shy of making some for om “egg box” out of foil and standing them in it or putting some baking beads in the bottom and pushing the peppers down into it. Either way, it would be better than the juggling with slippery hands which went on before I finally managed to get some semblance of order in the photograph. I roasted them for around 25 minutes just to get a bit of colour on the skin and the stuffing cooked out.
I made a raita-type dressing with Greek yoghurt, some finely diced cucumber and finely chopped mint, a dash of white wine vinegar with just a hint of seasoning. I made another with Greek yoghurt just with some salt and a swirl of harissa through it. Finally, I prepared a pomegranate which adds texture, colour and great flavour with this combination.
The peppers turned out really well. The balance of a quite punchy stuffing with the sweet flesh of the peppers was nice. It needed a solid consistency and plenty of heat. This then went well with the pepper and cooling dressings.
The absence of lamb was no big deal. There is good flavour in the stuffed pepper and this could easily be adapted to be vegetarian. The only meat ingredient is the chorizo and this adds very little of the heat. It could easily be omitted or swapped for something else with texture (chickpeas?) and just increase the paprika a little.