It seems that everyone has a glut of courgettes at this time of the year so I made this tasty courgette and Emmental bake as part of the ‘Easy Eating Campaign’ for Central England Co-operative. It’s delicious warm from the oven and is even good cold the next day in a lunchbox. It’s great with any kind of roast meat or sausages but my favourite pairing is with slowly roasted shoulder of lamb because you can just leave it in the oven and get on with something else. If time is an issue, it’s just as good with sausages or pork chops on the BBQ. Vegetarians could swap the meat for a side salad and use veg stock instead of chicken stock. This feeds 6 people easily, the prep is about half an hour and then it’s just oven time – 4 hours for the lamb, 40 minutes for the gratin.
To make the courgette bake….
- 3 onions, peeled and finely sliced
- 6 medium courgettes, sliced into thin discs
- 2 tablespoons of duck fat or olive oil
- 600ml hot chicken stock – I make mine with with a Kallo organic stock cube
- 200ml crème fraîche
- 200g basmati rice
- 200g Emmenthal cheese, grated.
- 2 ripe tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
For the slow roast lamb…
- 2Kg shoulder of lamb
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- Ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 160C.
- Peel and chop the garlic and make a paste with some sea salt with a mortar and pestle. Add in finely chopped rosemary leaves and a tablespoon of olive oil. Lay your shoulder of lamb on to a shallow baking tray and slather with the garlic, oil and rosemary mixture on both sides. Push some into the little folds of the meat to get the flavour throughout and grind over plenty of black pepper.
Roast slowly in the oven for 4 hours, baste occasionally. After 4 hours it should be melt in the mouth tender. Take it out of the oven, cover with foil to keep it warm and allow it to rest for 40 minutes before serving. When the meat is out of the oven, whack up the temperature to 190C and cook the gratin.
- The meat can be served shredded on a warm plate so everyone can help themselves. There will usually be some meat juices left over so I skim off any extra fat, reduce them on the hob in a pan if necessary, and pour over the meat to add extra flavour and moisture.
Meanwhile…prepare the gratin.
- Slice the onions first and then, in a large frying or sautée pan, melt the duck fat and fry the sliced onions under soft and sweet for about 20 minutes on a low heat. You can use olive oil but the duck fat gives better flavour.
- Soak the rice in cold water while you slice the courgettes. Grate the cheese and make up the stock. Butter a large gratin dish – I use my lasagne dish.
- The onions should be ready by now so drain and add the rice, stir to coat the grains in the fat or oil and then store in the courgettes and add the stock. Cook them through for about 5 minutes and take it off the heat.
- Stir in the crème fraîche and half the cheese and then pour it into the buttered dish. Taste it and season with a little salt and pepper but only if you think it needs it – it depends on the saltiness of your stock. Sprinkle over a little of the remaining cheese, top with thinly sliced tomato and the remaining cheese. Cover with cling film until you want to bake it.
- Bake at 190C for 40 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling.
- Serve with the roast lamb. I like a fresh tomato or plain green salad on the side too.