Quarantine cuisine (2) | Rillettes and lamb tagine with Constance

As you might already know, I love cooking for my loved ones. So, I’m trying to make the most of these weeks of confinement to perfect my favourite recipes and indulge my little family.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of sweetness. However, considering the circumstances, I thought I’d pick a bottle that tastes like a real treat. Klein Constantia’s Vin de Constance is a South African dessert wine that is sure to brighten your weekend. And I’ve come up with two recipe that will pair perfectly with this bottle: Roquefort rillettes, and a spicy lamb tagine with apricots.

But why this wine? Mainly because I like wines with a story to tell. This single variety Muscat from Frontignan takes us back to another time thanks to the shape of its bottle. Literature lovers among you might recognise the name from Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal, or perhaps have noted that Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and even Napoleon were particular fans of it.

Apart from this, I appreciate the wonderful food and wine pairings that can be concocted when a complex and persistent sweet wine is served alongside dishes that involve blue cheese or spices. When enjoyed with hotter meals, the sugary profile of a dessert wine works interestingly with the spice.

Which other wines would suit? I know that we won’t all have a mature bottle of Vin de Constance waiting patiently in the cellar! Opt for a fine sweet or dessert wine. Some of the best are Bonnezeaux, Vouvray and Quarts-de-Chaume from the Loire, Jurançon and Monbazillac from the south-west, Sauternes from Bordeaux, Vendanges Tardives and Sélection de Grain Nobles from Alsace, and vin de paille from the Jura…you really are spoilt for choice!

That’s enough talking, let’s head to the kitchen! But first of all, note that these recipes are also great for people who are gluten and lactose intolerant, like me! I know that accomplished recipes can be hard to come by…

Roquefort rillettes with dried fruit

For 4 people to enjoy, you’ll need

  • 400g Roquefort, or any kind of blue cheese
  • 70g currants
  • 70g walnuts
  • 4 tbls white sheep’s cheese
  • A dash of grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbls Cognac
  • 50g butter
  • Pepper

Leave the butter at room temperature and soak the currants in the Cognac for about ten minutes.

In a salad bowl, crumble the cheese. Add the butter in small cubes, the cream cheese, the currants, the nutmeg, and the pepper. Combine carefully.

Put aside some walnuts for decoration, and crush the others into large crumbs. You can do this by putting them in a ziplock bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.

Add these to the mixture, before putting it all into a jar or container to be kept in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

A little indulgent tip: serve the rillettes with fruity bread, and even some stewed pear.

Lamb and apricot tagine

This recipe serves 6 people. Don’t worry if there are fewer of you at the moment: this dish will keep well and retain its flavour.

You will need:

  • 750g boneless lamb shoulder, cut into large cubes
  • 12 dried apricots
  • 2 onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 little piece of ginger
  • 2 tbls almonds
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • 1 tbls honey
  • 1 piece dried orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A dash of saffron
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 handful of fresh coriander
  • Salt, pepper

First of all, you’ll want to peel and slice the garlic and onions. Then peel and grate the piece of ginger.

In a saucepan, heat the oil and add the almonds so that they take on a golden brown colour. Add the onions and garlic – they should become translucent. Then add the ginger, saffron, cinnamon and ground coriander (sav the fresh for later!).

Mix in the lamb cubes for 2 to 3 minutes to mix them well with the spices. Then pour enough water into the pan to cover the meat and bring it to boiling. Lower the heat and let it simmer gently for around an hour. Add the orange and apricots, followed by twenty minutes of further cooking.

Add the tablespoon of honey, add any extra seasoning to taste, then add salt and pepper. Check that there is enough liquid remaining for a thick sauce at the end of cooking. If not, add a little bit of water. Chop the fresh coriander and add half of this to the saucepan, continuing to cook for a further ten minutes.

Serve the tagine with the rest of the coriander as a garnish!

I hope you enjoy these recipes – get in touch with your own favourite food and wine pairings!

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