What is practiculture? It’s what happens when you leave big-city life to tend your garden, hunt in your backyard and prepare meals according to what’s in season instead of what’s on the supermarket shelves. Modern-day Australian “food warrior” Rohan Anderson’s new collection of recipes follows the practical nature of cooking from the homestead, something everyone should try.
If NME did a top 10 cheap meals, this one would be in it. It’s a union of thrifty ingredients — one from the paddock, most of the rest from the garden — and so tasty it’s bound to be made over and over again. Well, it is in my kitchen!
I feel some guilt cooking with lamb, and I’ve avoided it for a good few years. My initial concern was that lamb could be raised in one part of the state, transported to an abattoir, packaged and then transported to a supermarket. Seemed like a lot of road miles to me. Lamb is a free-range animal in Australia, so I wasn’t concerned about that, but unfortunately they’re often treated with a good deal of inorganic chemicals and medications to deal with parasites such as works, pathogens and so on. It’s simply unnatural, and buying lamb has always felt like a gamble because of that.
When I stumbled across a sign down the road offering whole lambs for sale, butchered and packed, I thought I’d give that a try. It ticked a few boxes — reduced food miles, if not necessarily organic. I guess it’s better to tick at least a few boxes, even if we can’t manage them all, although I wish we could.
I’m not sure if I’ll do it again — I think I’ve grown too accustomed to hunting. But for now, I have a supply of lamb, and this meal is one I enjoy. It’s far more enjoyable than simply cooking chops on the barbecue.
- 2 cups dried French flageolet beans, soaked in water overnight
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 2 onions, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 pound, 2 ounces lamb chops
- 2 3/4 cups tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)
- 2 cups parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Goat's feta, to serve
- crusty bread, to serve
For the lamb and beans
Bring 8 cups salted water to a boil. Add the drained beans and simmer for 2 hours, or until soft. Drain when cooked and set aside.
Preheat the oven to a measly 270°F.
Meanwhile, in a large flameproof casserole dish, heat a generous glug of olive oil over medium heat on the stovetop. Gently sweat the celery, onion and carrot for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic, then add the chops, sealing them on all sides. Pour over the passata and add water if necessary to ensure the meat is covered. Stir through half the parsley, and season with salt and pepper.
Pop the lid on the casserole dish and transfer to the oven. Cook for 3 hours, or until the meat falls from the bone, ensuring optional mastication ;-). Return the dish to the stovetop, and cook to reduce the sauce if necessary. Stir through the cooked beans and the remaining parsley, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Crumble some feta over the top and serve with crusty bread.