Beautiful New Zealand lamb with rustic tomatoes, garlic and thyme, creamy mashed potato and herbs.
Provence is full of tanned, terrific types. Even the cicadas sunbathe. But before the likes of Brangelina called Provence home, village folk were peacefully creating phenomenally delicious recipes and dishes to represent their belief that slow wins the race. And we know we've got a winner here with our Agneau à la Provencale. By taking the time to do things just-so, this century-old recipe of slow-cooked lamb infused with thyme and ripe, rustic tomatoes, is a thing of beauty. Yep, even more beautiful than Brangelina. Well, we think so.
• Milk solids
• Black olives
• Black pepper
Having tried those cook-in-the-pot "Beef Provencale" packet mixes in the past, and finding myself decidedly underwhelmed, this was a dish I wasn't too surte about trying. Silly me, after trying the Chicken Basquaise I should have had more faith in these two lads!
This is certainly a high-risk dish, and must have taken a lot of practice to perfect in a heat'n'eat format. You have Lamb - a Kiwi staple and a meat we are all well versed in - plus you have a "creamy mash potato and herbs"... let's face it, high-starch foods don't respond well to microwaves. Think about what happens to pasta and pastry in the nukebox - it dries out and goes rubbery... yet this mash stayed creamy and soft, full of flavour and not a chewy bit of dried out rubber in sight. When I also take into account the fact I had to add an extra 40 seconds to the suggested cook time in order to make sure the mash was hot all the way through, this is pretty remarkable actually.
This also goes for the lamb - moist and tender, enough bite resistance to provide a satisfying chew, but still tender enough to fall apart in your mouth and not be chewy or tough. My only comment is that I would have liked to see more meat. I know this would have increased the price significan'tly, but one can wish, can't one? The sauce was great with the soft, creamy mash and they were indeed the perfect match, and so too was the suggested wine match on the back of the cardboard outer - a fine Syrah. Though the box specified a Hawkes Bay Syrah, I didn't have any of that particular breed, but found a bottle of another Syrah hiding in the back of the pantry. Yay! I love that there is a ready wine suggestion on the box, for those times you just aren't sure... or, like me, wouldn't have a clue.
As with the previous dish I tried, this proved to be an astounding meal, though smaller than I would have liked. It's another of those 'crave it' meals, where it wouldn't matter the portion size, you'd still want to be able to fit another forkful in somewhere. Made with NZ produce, and free from preservatives, this meal does have a short shelf-life, so don't buy up big thinking you can leave them in the fridge 'just in case...' - they really are meals that should be bought to be eaten, not bought to be stockpiled.
Overall, coming in almost-entirely recyclable packaging - the vacuum-seal plastic sheet being the only piece you can't recycle - this is not only a tasty meal, is one that is healthy for you and the environment too. I also loved the little snippets of regional trivia on the back of the cardboard outer, telling me not only about the food, but also the region it is derived from - feeding my cultural as well as my physical hunger.
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