Hari Raya (Eid) is around the corner and I'm thinking of making a claypot or casserole mutton rendang. I tried it recently and it turned out to be very, very good. Something different from the usual beef rendang, was a healthier option and it was easy on the washing up as well. I was more relaxed because I knew in my mind that my stove wouldn't get spat on by the bubbling and simmering concoction which meant that I wouldn't be using up much of my depleting energy reserves cleaning it up afterwards. That and in addition to the fact that a one pot casserole that is popped into the oven can be conveniently forgotten for at least an hour if not more. In other words less stress, less work and more blogging time.
The recipe would serve four rather starving people or six civilized eaters. My children stared quite malignantly at the empty dish trying hard to to will more into existence. That's enough proof that I should either keep this recipe to myself or share it. But share it I must. It's the spirit of the season. TIP* Use a pretty casserole or claypot with a 2 litre capacity.
900 gm of cubed boneless mutton
2 large red onions
4 cloves garlic
1 inch of fresh galangal/lengkuas, sliced
1 inch fresh ginger, sliced
1/2 inch fresh tumeric, sliced
1 - 2 tbsp chilli paste or more if you prefer ( made from blended/processed soaked dried chillies or bottled chilli paste)
1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)
2 stalks lemon grass/serai, sliced
1 tbsp powdered cumin/jintan putih
The above ingredients (mutton not included) are to be blitzed in a food processor or in a blender. I personally prefer using a food processor as I needn't add water to the mixture which results in a thicker and more concentrated paste and less simmering/cooking time in order to achieve a thick and rich rendang sauce (which is everyone's goal in the cooking of rendang).
2 large onions, sliced and fried in some oil (approx. 2 tbsp) till caramalized or a golden brown, drained and kept aside till needed.
1/2 cup freshly grated or dessicated coconut, fried dry in a pan till golden brown and blitzed in a grinder or food processor. Or you could just buy some ready made (called kerisik) at the wet market. Keep aside.
1 piece tumeric leaf/daun kunyit, shredded or left whole
5 - 6 pieces kaffir lime leaf/daun limau purut, left whole
440 ml thick coconut milk ( I used 'canned' not fresh) because I find it thicker and more concentrated
1/2 cup (more or less) vegetable oil
Put cubed mutton in a claypot or casserole. Put shredded or whole tumeric leaves and lime leaves, the golden brown fried sliced onions and the 'kerisik' in as well.
Meanwhile saute the ground ingredients till fragrant and or the paste turns a darker, richer colour and the oil rises to the top. When done add this cooked paste (oil and all) to the mutton in claypot or casserole. Pour in the thick coconut milk. Add salt. Give the mixture a good careful mix so that the meat is well coated with all the spices and coconut milk. Cover.
Pop it into the oven at 200 F for about 1 hour or a little more than that and then lower the heat to 180 F and cook uncovered or half covered till the sauce thickens and turns a rich dark brown. I did not check the time when I did this so you will have to look in after half and hour or so and let it continue to cook if not done yet. I believe I left it in for about another hour. Add more salt if necessary.
I had it in the oven for a about 21/2 hours in all. Plenty of time to watch AFC, read, write, have a stomach ache or even a nap (WITH THE TIMER ON!).
Serve it straight from the oven to the table, after giving it a good wipe around the edges of course.
Why this dish tasted good:
The fried caramelized onions added a savoury sweetness.
A long, slow cooking time allowed the meat to absorb all the flavours.
The ground paste was sauteed first which brought out the savoury sweetness of the ingredients.
The addition of kerisik added the richness of the coconut flavour to it and gave it its dark, deep colour. (Sometimes I omit the kerisik and it does not taste as good)
Why casserole cooking was more convenient then the traditional stove top cooking:
I avoided the problem of scraping the bottom of the pot every now and then to ensure that the meat at the bottom doesn't stick or get burnt.
The meat cooks evenly as the heat from the oven surrounds the whole casserole; therefore it eliminated the need to stir the mixture.
Here are some of my casseroles, minus the one that I had dropped to smithereens, the one I cracked and the one that's missing a cover.
Next post : The History of Rendang - recipe for the true traditional Minangkabau rendang