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Lamb Soup and Lamb Stew with Spring Onion and Garlic
At this time of the year Romanian Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter, the week beginning with the Christian feasts of Easter and culminating with Easter Sunday. On this occasion households are filled with the smell of painted eggs, freshly baked pound cake and most of all lamb-based dishes.
In today's edition of the Cooking Show we bring you recipes for lamb soup, a dish usually served at Easter, and lamb stew with spring onion and garlic.
For the lamb soup, you will need one lamb head, the thighbones, its neck and tail. In addition, you will need 2 medium-sized carrots, one parsnip, one cup of rice, one bunch of spring onion, pepper and salt to taste, one egg yolk, one cup of sour cream and two bunches of fresh lovage.
Boil the lamb parts in a pot with 6 liters of water and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Add the finely chopped vegetables and leave to boil over a low heat for approximately an hour. Add the rice and leave to boil for an additional quarter an hour. A very popular souring agent, widely used in Romanian cuisine, is fermented wheat bran. In the end add the liquid obtained by fermenting wheat bran and leave to boil for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and salt to taste. Mix well the egg yolk with the sour cream as you would a dressing and serve hot with freshly chopped lovage leaves.
The so-called "stufat", a delicate spring lamb stew, is very popular in the period right after Easter in Romania and all over the Balkans. You can make it with either leg of lamb or lamb ribs, about a kilo's worth. It doesn't take much to make the recipe. All you need on top of that is five tomatoes, about 15 sprigs of spring onion and another 15 of green spring garlic. Cut the onion and garlic into segments about an inch long.
In a pan heat some oil, and cook the meat on all sides at low heat, turning it periodically. Set the meat aside, then, in the same oil, sweat the pieces of onion and garlic. Also, cut the tomatoes into little cubes. Now take a covered deep oven dish and mix inside the lamb, onions and garlic, as well as the tomatoes. In some versions, a bit of flour is added to the mixture to thicken the sauce. Top with a bit of water, then set in the oven at medium heat for about half an hour. Take out the vessel and throw in a glass of wine, as well as salt and pepper to taste, then leave to cook in the oven for about another quarter of an hour. It is a recipe as simple as it is delicious.
Alongside lamb dishes and pound cake, the "Pasca", a sweet cheese Easter cake is a ubiquitous dessert at the Easter table, once Eastern Lent is broken and eating cheese and eggs is once again allowed by the faithful. For most Romanians it is the smell and taste of Easter. Enjoy!
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