Lamb neck is such an affordable cut and, in this weather, it lends itself beautifully to slow cooked dishes like this one. The addition of fennel is heavenly.

serves 4 as a main

2 bay leaves

sprig of rosemary, or thyme

sprig of parsley

1 tablespoon 

extra virgin olive oil

4 x 300-350g lamb necks

1 large onion, finely chopped

250ml white wine

250ml chicken or vegetable stock

200ml tomato passata

peel of half an orange with pith removed

4 baby fennel cut in half lengthways, or 2 fennel bulbs, cut into quarters, fronds reserved and chopped 

⅓ cup olives

sea salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

handful coriander or flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Using kitchen string, tie the bay leaves, rosemary and parsley together in a bundle to make a bouquet garni.

Heat oil in a medium heavy based casserole pot.  Add the lamb necks and cook for about 8 minutes, turning to brown all sides well. Remove meat and set aside.  Add the onions to the fry pan and cook for 5 minutes until softened and lightly golden. Return the lamb necks to the pot.

Add the wine and cook for a minute.  Add the stock, passata, orange peel, bouquet garni and fennel.  Add enough extra water, if necessary, to just cover all the ingredients.  Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low simmer.  Cover the surface with a piece of baking paper.  Cover with lid and cook for an hour.  Add the olives and cook for another hour.  Remove the lamb necks and continue cooking to reduce liquid to about 1½ cups.  Using a ladle skim away any fat on the surface.  Remove and discard the orange peel and bouquet garni.

Meanwhile remove the meat from the neck bones, discarding the bones and fat.  Return meat to the sauce to heat through.  Season to taste with salt and ground pepper.

Serve hot with chopped fennel fronds, parsley or coriander leaves scattered over the top. Accompany with mashed potatoes, cous cous or crusty bread.

Serving option: Add kipfler potatoes, or roughly chopped yukon gold potatoes when adding the olives.  Serve with a green salad.

Fiona Hammond © June 2019

Mark Brancatisano