I had planned to throw together some kind of leftovers casserole for dinner this evening until I found myself pondering over some lamb chump steaks in the Co-op at lunchtime. They were a bargain at £3 and looked good. I remembered reading somewhere that chump is a lean but flavourful cut of lamb, well-suited to slow cooking, so I snapped them up and started plotting a butternut squash, tender lamb and sweet sage and chestnut combo (inspired by a delicious gratin I enjoyed at Stickybeaks cafe a while back). Here's how it went down...
250g lamb chump, cut into small pieces
1 seasonal or butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
Glug of olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100-200g Merchant Gourmet whole chestnuts, halved
Handful sage leaves, stalks removed
2 tsps molasses (dark brown sugar)
Meat stock cube, hot water
1. Peel the squash and cut into chunks. Toss in olive oil and roast in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes. Turn and add the chestnuts and sage leaves. Return to oven for 10 minutes and reduce to heat to 160C.
2. Meanwhile, crush the rosemary and garlic with a little sea salt, black pepper and a glug of olive oil in a pestle and mortar. Heat a little oil in an ovenproof cooking pot with a lid and brown off the diced lamb. Add the rosemary and garlic paste and coat the lamb until the herbs become fragrant and the garlic begins to turn golden.
3. Remove the squash, chestnuts and sage from the oven and add to the lamb. Stir together gently, being careful not to mash the pieces of squash up. Cover with hot water and a little meat stock, season slightly and add the molasses. Stir gently and bring to the boil.
4. When bubbling away nicely, place the lid on the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook on a low temperature for about an hour and a half, keeping an eye on the level of liquid in the pot and topping up if necessary. But not too much: the casserole should become fairly thick and almost sticky and take on the rich flavours of chestnut, lamb and herbs. The lamb should be soft and easily pulled apart. When ready, serve with steamed curly kale and a dollop of creme fraiche.