Who’s the wise guy that said crumbles must be sweet? Someone needs to give him a good talking-to.
Crumble topping is perfect for meat stew. It’s a no-brainer really; it adds that much-desired crunch. Like the kind of crispiness that we strive for when we whack a Shepherd’s Pie under the grill and hope that it doesn’t catch, or when we faithfully brush our pastry with egg-wash and pray that it bakes a beautiful golden-brown. With crumble, you don’t have to worry about dicing with the grill or fearing for a soggy-bottom.
It’s a simple, no-fail, rewarding way to make a pie that is delicious and easily customisable. Try it using different kinds of oats, add nuts, use various blends of cheese or dot the top with soft or blue cheese. Mix up the herbs and add some chilli or lemon. The possibilities are endless. Just promise me you won’t be that guy and say that crumble belongs in desserts.
RECIPE: Lamb & Mint Crumble
SOURCE: The crumble topping is from Brighton & Hove Food Partnership
FLAVOUR PROFILE: Rich and hearty lamb stew with a crunchy mint-flecked topping
GOES GREAT WITH: This is great on its own, but if you want to add a splash of green, I’d roast some asparagus or whip up some minted peas to have on the side.
NOTES: As a rule of thumb, for stews I like to keep everything around the same size. Not only does it look better, but it stops things from ‘disappearing’ in the mix. So take your chunks of lamb and then chop your carrots and onions to roughly the same sizes.
MAKES: Serves 4 easily. Or 6 if you are planning on having a couple of sides with it.
- 2 tbsp. OIL
- 400g (14oz) LAMB SHOULDER or any cut of stewing lamb
- 2 RED ONIONS, diced
- 2 MEDIUM CARROTS, chopped into large chunks (total weight 200g)
- 2 GARLIC CLOVES, minced
- 1 knob BUTTER
- 1 heaped tbsp. TOMATO PUREE
- 15ml (0.5oz) BALSAMIC VINEGAR
- ½ tbsp. ROSEMARY, finely chopped
- ½ tbsp. CHERRY JAM
- 330ml (11.6oz) BLACK IPA or other dark beer
- 1 tsp. CORNFLOUR, mixed with 1 tbsp. WATER to make a smooth paste
- SALT and PEPPER
For the topping:
- 50g (1.8oz) FLOUR
- 50g (1.8oz) OATS (I used standard porridge oats)
- 25g (0.9oz) BUTTER, diced
- 50g (1.8oz) GRATED CHEDDAR
- 2 tbsp. MINT, finely chopped
- SALT and PEPPER
- In a large saucepan, heat the OIL and brown the LAMB in batches, getting some good colour on it. Leave aside.
- Add the BUTTER, RED ONIONS and GARLIC and cook over a medium-high heat until the onions start turning translucent – about 5 minutes.
- Add the BALSAMIC VINEGAR and TOMATO PUREE. Cook out for a further 5 minutes.
- Stir in the CARROTS and ROSEMARY and reduce the heat slightly to medium. Season well with SALT and PEPPER. Cover with a lid and leave for 10 minutes.
- Return the LAMB to the pot. Add the BEER and CHERRY JAM. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 1 – 1.5 hours, until the lamb is tender. Check seasoning.
- Stir in the CORNFLOUR-WATER mix and cook for an extra 10 minutes for the sauce to thicken. Preheat the oven to 180c.
- For the topping: Put the FLOUR and OATS into a mixing bowl. Add the BUTTER. Then, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour-mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Fold in the GRATED CHEESE, MINT and season with SALT and PEPPER.
- Assemble the pie: Pour the meat mixture into a pie or casserole dish (mine measured 30cm x 20cm). Sprinkle the crumble on the top so that it is even.
- Cook at 180c for 30 minutes until the top is golden-brown and the gravy is bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately.