recipe: quick lamb pilaf and a tale of love

LAMB PILAF? On a bloody Slimming World blog? Yes, and it’s quick lamb pilaf too, and it tastes good, so calm your boobs Susan and read on. As ever with our blog, the recipe is right at the bottom – if you’re in a rush, just scroll right down to the photos and the quick lamb pilaf will be waiting for you. However, fans of the writing, there’s a cracking post to follow, so pop your cankles up, lock the kids/dogs in the cupboard under the stairs and I’ll be right with you.

Oh! Though. Two bits of very quick news:

  • our new cookbook – Two Chubby Cubs: Fast and Filling – is now due for delivery on December 31 2020 – meaning you can start the New Year with all good intentions! Preorder it now and you’ll get the Amazon price guarantee, so you’ll always pay the lowest price. If you loved our last cookbook then I promise this keeps up the pace and there are some genuinely bloody amazing recipes in this one. You think the last book was colourful? This improves on it in every single way; and
  • we had a minor blip with our Facebook group – but it’s back online now – feel free to join!

Well, hasn’t this been a long three weeks? Maybe not for you – maybe you’ve spent your weeks with your ankles up by your ears picking the fluff out of your toenails, or perhaps you’ve been toiling so hard that you’ve barely had time to swipe the shine off your foof. But all of that must pale in comparison when you realise that I’ve had three weeks without Paul, and as a direct result I’ve had to make my own coffee and meals several times over. I know: we all have a cross to bear, but even so.

You know when circumstances just conspire against you in fun and unexpected ways? That’s me. I set off to Liverpool in the back of September to stay for a couple of days with mates (support bubble mates, before anyone writes a letter). Readers with a long memory may remember passing references to Paul 2 or Limited Edition Paul, but for this article, he shall be known as Tall Paul (as he is 6ft 4″, whereas my homunculus husband is a trifling 5ft 7″). I had planned to stay for four or five days to play cribbage and agonise over what should be done with the way of the world and then return home, triumphant and whistling from the rear, to the arms of my beloved.

However, just as I was packing away my forty seven t-shirts, various tchotchkes and as many lighters as I dared lift from every conceivable surface, catastrophe struck: my Paul received a warning that he had to self-isolate as he’d been near someone who had tested positive for COVID. I was as surprised as you are: Paul isn’t exactly known for his gadabouting and his idea of being social is opening the curtains on his day off, so how could this be? We’re still living in a hotel so chances are it was someone just passing through, but doesn’t matter: he had to bunker down for ten days.

Now, perhaps you’re thinking, surely I must have dashed to my car and drove back to mop his brow and tend to his every whim? Well you’d be wrong, I was in the middle of watching an Agatha Christie and although watching any programme at my friends’ house is an exercise in trying to make out anything remotely distinctive through the fog of smoke and cacophony of shrieking and lament, I was eager to find out who did it. Turns out the murderer was in us all along.

No, it’s because we’re living in a one-bedroom hotel room that we both – jointly – decided I must stay away for the sake of our marriage. Paul and I rarely argue but that’s because in between his working and my flights of fancy, we are together approximately eighteen minutes a day. This works, because it gives us enough time for a cuddle, bum and a blistering critique of his technique after. On holiday we are amazing and can spend weeks together without complaint, but that’s normally because we have new things to distract us from the cruelty in each other’s eyes.

But cooped up together in a one-bedroom flat without the possibility of leaving? We’d genuinely kill each other. Between Paul’s stunning ability to pull facts from eight years ago out of his arse and my propensity towards the melodramatic, it would only take a mild disagreement about who gets the firm pillow before it spilled over into bitter recriminations and me trying to post his head through the toaster. So, for ten days more, I was to stay in Liverpool whilst Paul locked down in Newcastle.

And you know, it was just fine. Paul, confined to what was effectively a fancy jail cell, built some Lego, scratched his bum and availed himself of all the naughty things in my bedside drawer that I tell him not to play with. I had a gay old time – the days flew by – and within the week had grown accustomed to the mild film of spittle that was being left on my face every time I asked someone especially Scouse for directions. Not every vowel needs strangling, just sayin’. I’m kidding, I love the Scouse accent and Liverpool is a terrific city.

However, with two days to go, my friend also gets a self-isolation warning on the app. You couldn’t write the script, could you? Common decency and the fact I’d been using Tall Paul’s toothbrush to ped-egg my feet in the bath meant that I couldn’t risk travelling back to my Paul in case my lungs were full of excitement. This meant a further stay whilst we anxiously waited to see if my lips would turn blue with something other than the effort of doing my shirt buttons, but thankfully no and, after a total of 22 days, I was able to come home and back into the flabby, comforting arms of my husband.

Here’s the thing: for all that I endlessly rag on Paul via this blog, for all that I tease and make him out to be a crabby, contumacious old sort, he’s alright really, and not being able to see him when I wanted was very much a trouble I hadn’t anticipated. Those that know me say that I suffer with contrarianism, that is, as soon as I can’t do something I very much want to do it. You may disagree with that analysis, but that’s fine, because then I’ll deliberately disagree with you and that proves me right. It’s why things like lockdown rankle with me (though I stick to the rules rigidly, because The Greater Good) – I can merrily sit on my bum for days on end and never see anyone but the instant I can’t do it, I’m arranging things left, right and centre and then going Max Tittylip that my plans are out.

And, you know, I really, really missed him. My hosts were truly amazing, each and all, and you must understand that I’m alway glad of an opportunity to sit on someone else’s sofa, but there’s a lot to be said for coming back and burying my nose in the hay-scented fleshpile that is Paul. I missed his innate skill of being able to recall some random quote from a Changing Rooms episode from way back when and reduce me to laughing tears with some naff catchphrase. I like the way his tongue appears at the corner of his mouth when he’s trying to concentrate in spite of my endless prodding. He’s the kindest, most selfless, most considerate barrel of fat you’ll ever meet, and by God he doesn’t get the credit he deserves on here.

It’s not all roses – and that’s mainly because the fat bastard eats them before I get a chance – for example, I don’t like that sometimes when he’s watching TV his jaw slackens and he looks like his mother, the Waltzers Queen of Peterborough. Plus he messes up his personal pronouns in a way that makes my shoulders lock into my ears with annoyance. He gives me a hard time for accidentally piddling around the toilet in the bathroom but has no shame in leaving the pan looking like someone hurled a tin of uncooked brownie mix in from a moving car.

But yeah, I missed him. A couple of times when I sat in front of the Mersey, listening to my Billie Eilish tapes, looking over the river to the hills beyond and knowing he was only a three hour drive away (actually more like seven, given my tendency to stop and get something down on paper at every service station on the way) was a bit of a wrench. We reunited last night in a blur of knock-off Doritos (clearly he hadn’t missed me enough to get name-brand) and The Cube and it was tremendous. Lovely. But that’s to be expected, as I do love him dearly. I mean look what a power couple we are.

Anyway, look, that’s quite enough of that mush. I’ll be back to calling him all sorts and tampering with the brakes on his Smart car lickety-split, I promise. Actually, given the Smart car’s brakes extend to nothing more than pushing a carrier bag out of the window at speed so it acts as a makeshift parachute, that bit will be easy!

The super quick lamb pilaf, then. You’ve waited long enough and endured all of my nonsense, and for that I’m grateful. As grateful as you will be for this delicious quick lamb pilaf? Abso-friggin-lutely. Let’s do this!

quick lamb pilaf

Turns out that despite being a delicious dinner to make, the quick lamb pilaf doesn’t photograph too well. Ah well. Bear with.

quick lamb pilaf

Serve the quick lamb pilaf with naan breads. Which translates as bread bread, fact-fans.

quick lamb pilaf

Just to add to our woes, the quick lamb pilaf photo here went all washed out. But you know what, you’re turning it into poop, let’s not fret too much about the looks.

tasty and quick lamb pilaf

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Lamb mince doesn't get nearly half as much love as it should. It's so much more tastier than beef mince, and is dead easy to cook. Try and get the lean stuff if you can, if you can't find it in the supermarkets a local butcher is a good bet. You slip someone enough spare change and you'd be amazed what they can do with a mincer.

This makes enough for two very large portions. Maybe a bit more for your lunchbox.

This is another recipe inspired from Hello Fresh - we've made a couple of changes to slim it down. We've been customers for a few months while our house gets rebuilt, and, I won't lie, writing a cookbook totally bloody drains you. We love it, and you probably will too! Click here if you want to give them a go, you'll get £20 off your first box. We also get £20, because damn it.

Ingredients

  • 400g lean lamb mince (4 syns)
  • 2 red onions
  • 1½ tbsp ras-en-hanout (you can buy this in all supermarkets, it's not rare, it'll be with the spices)
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 300g basmati rice
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 20ish mint leaves
  • half a lemon
  • 400g tin brown lentils
  • 3 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 150g fat free natural yoghurt

Instructions

  • spray a saucepan with a little oil and place over a high heat
  • add the lamb mince and cook for 5-6 minutes, until browned
  • meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the red onion
  • add half of the onion to the mince and cook for another 5 minutes
  • add the ras-el-hanout and half of the turmeric, and cook for another minute
  • add the rice to the pan and stir, then add the stock and stir again
  • reduce the heat to medium and cook for ten minutes, covered, then remove from the heat and set aside for another ten minutes
  • as the pilaf is cooking, peel and mince the garlic, finely chop the minute leaves and drain and rinse the lentils in a colander
  • spray a frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium heat
  • add the remaining onion and cook until softened, about five minutes
  • add the spinach and cook for another couple of minutes until wilted, then add the garlic and lentils
  • cook for 1-2 minutes until the lentils have warmed through, then set aside
  • in a bowl, mix together the yoghurt with half of the mint and remaining turmeric
  • remove the lid from the pilaf and stir and fluff up
  • gently stir in the lentil mixture, remaining mint and a squeeze of lemon juice
  • serve in bowls, with a dollop of minty yoghurt

Notes

The dish

  • ras-el-hanout is a fantastic spice mix, if you get it you will love it. You'll find it nearly all spice bits in supermarket, but if you really are struggling you can use garam masala or curry powder
  • lean lamb mince will taste best in this, but beef mince works well too - cook in the same way. 
  • can't be arsed to track down a mint plant? Use a tbsp of mint sauce in the yoghurt instead and a tbsp in the pilaf, we'll never tell

The books

  • OUR BRAND NEW COOKBOOK can be pre-ordered from Amazon right now! It's rammed with recipes which are both FAST and FILLING. We called it FAST AND FILLING. I know, we're geniuses. But it's really banging. It'll be coming out just in time for the new year! Preorder yours here! 
  • our first slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 3000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedback!

Tools

Courses dinner

Cuisine curry

What? You want more curry and spicy ideas? Of course you do. You love having a bumhole that looks like a frightened emoji. Here we go then:

JX

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