Baby it's cold outside...so get the slow cooker out and cook dinner! If you're anything like me, when winter comes you don't feel like salad, or bbq, you feel like sonething saucy and wintery. And this hits the mark, served with polenta and steamed veggies or rice, or even mashed potato, this slow cooker balsamic and juniper berry lamb has all the flavours of winter.
First of all, let's get something straight. I don't really use odd ingredients like juniper berries, in fact, until I was at the spice store and come across these, I didn't know what they were or how to use them. The man in the store assured me that they would taste great in "wet" food. I wasn't quite sure what he meant by that, but some googling when I got home told me that they have flavours reminiscent of rosemary and are ideal with dark meats such as lamb and beef. If you are struggling to find juniper berries, use some rosemary and time instead, but keep an eye out for these little beauties as they are really versatile and I've been using them in quite a few dishes since I got them.
A long time ago, in another life, I spent extensive time in Italy, where I learnt Italian (I'm fluent...go on test me!), ate a lot of good food and generally speaking saw an awful lot of Italy under the guise of studying. One of the best meals I ever had was a balsamic lamb dish that I had in Perugia in Umbria. It was gorgeous, just sweet enough and just salty enough. I've tried a few times to do similar meals, but haven't been happy with them until now. Don't get me wrong, this isn't that exact dish, in fact my memory isn't good enough to even get me close...but it tastes pretty amazing!
Both of the mini Kidgredients gobbled this, which is a plus! It was even on a day when Master 2 had preschool and Miss 4 had dancing, so when they are notoriously difficult to please. Give this a go and you won't be disappointed.
I have to say, photographing brown food is hard work. This is a kids size serve as it looked better due to the colours, but don't worry I'm talking 6 full adult serves in the recipe!
Slow cooker balsamic and juniper berry lamb
- 1 kg diced lamb
- two onions halved then sliced
- 8 dates pitted and chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsps tomato paste
- 2 tbsps juniper berries
- ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups water
- In a frypan over medium heat, fry the lamb in batches until brown.
- Remove from the heat.
- Add the olive oil and onions to the pan and cook until soft over medium heat.
- Add the dates, juniper berries, tomato paste and vinegar. Cook until the dates start to dissolve (about 5 minutes).
- Add the water, bring quickly to the boil.
- Add the lamb and the sauce to the slowcooker. Coat all of the lamb in the sauce and cook on low for 8 hours.
- Serve hot over polenta, rice or mashed potato.