A few weeks ago I was invited to a housewarming party by Duck-Pancake-Matt who has moved into an apartment. The party wasn’t in the apartment because there is a roof-top terrace and so up on the roof with a view of the ocean and the full moon rising is where the party was held.
Duck-Pancake-Matt said it was a fancy dress party and you had to wear a costume dressed as something beginning with ‘M’. ‘M’ because he has moved to Manly. I wore my Lulu Lemon exercise gear and when people asked me what I was I said, ‘A Mosman Mum’.
Matt very generously provided all beverages and as he is a wine connoisseur they were pretty terrific. It was a little chilly up on the roof top but I was able to warm myself with a few glasses of pinot from Nelson in New Zealand.
But as for the food, everyone was asked to bring a dish and there would be a prize for the best savoury and the best sweet dishes. The food would be judged by a panel of ‘experts’ and I was asked to be on that panel.
I have a lovely friend, Garry, who can talk all things food for hours. He made this Hand of Fatima Pie and not only did it look outstanding, it was the best lamb pie I’ve ever eaten. Surprise, surprise, as I was a judge, Garry won the best savoury dish competition and when he accepted his prize of a bottle of Moet, I asked him if I could have the recipe. Garry emailed it to me the very next day.
I had never heard of the Hand of Fatima but I did a little research and found that it stems from the Middle East where many cultures believe the hand of Fatima will protect them from the evil eye. The Jews believe the fingers represent the five books written by Moses known as the Torah; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
This is a slow-cooked pie with the meat becoming extremely tender during the cooking process. It’s a fairly rich pie and so it doesn’t need to be served with anything heavy like mashed potato. I served it with a simple green salad. Now because of the long cooking process, this recipe is best made on a cooler day when you’re looking for a warming comfort meal or you could just be like me and cook it on one of the hottest days of the year because you can’t wait for the seasons to change. The pie can be made with either lamb or goat but I made it with lamb. With lamb being costly you don’t want to ruin the pie with a topping of ordinary pastry. I used Careme which is the best bought pastry I’ve ever tasted. It’s really worth the additional cost. Careme now has a gluten-free range so this pie could be GF.
- 6 skinned lamb shanks
- 1 bottle of dry red wine (750mls)
- 3-4 tbspns ras el hanout
- 12 eschallots
- 1 tbspn cornflour
- 6-8 portabello mushrooms
- shortcrust pastry - I used Careme sour cream shortcrust pastry
- 1 beaten egg yolk
- Pre-heat oven to 140C (280F)
- Place the lamb shanks in a large casserole dish. Add wine and ras el hanout. Place a lid on the casserole dish. Turn on the heat and bring to the boil.
- Once boiling, turn off the heat and place in the oven for 3 hours.
- Remove from the oven and add eschalotts. Return to the oven for a further hour.
- Remove from the oven and take the meat from the bones and place in a separate bowl. (The meat should fall from the bone with just a nudge).
- Remove onions with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl with the lamb.
- Make a cornflour slurry with a small amount of water.
- Place the casserole dish on the hob and bring to the boil. Add cornflour slurry and stir until sauce has thickened.
- Turn off the heat and return meat and eschallots to the dish.
- Cut mushrooms in half and remove the stem. Place mushrooms on top of the meat (the mushrooms will create a barrier and stop the sauce from making the pastry go soggy - nothing worse!
- Roll out pastry and place the lid of the casserole dish on the pastry. Cut out a circle and place the pastry on top of the mushrooms.
- Use remaining pastry to make a hand. I put my hand down on the pastry and carefully cut around the shape - do this carefully - you don't want to lose a finger.
- Brush pastry top with egg yolk then place the hand in the centre of the pie. Brush with egg yolk.
- Increase oven temperature to 180C (375F).
- Place pie in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until pastry if golden.
- Serve with a salad.