Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two Little Lambs

The weather here is strange and given that it dictates so much of our eating habits, I am somewhat confused.  One day we will have high winds, grey skies and the next it is bright beautiful blue, sunny and calm.  As a result I have been oscillating between pavlova and tomato tarts to sticky wintry roast meats which only deserve to be eaten by the fire on cold dark days.  I think the kite surfers on Sandyount Strand would love the slow roast lamb after their morning being buffeted and battered by the wind and waves.

I mentioned last week that I had made a lamb tagine with a boned shoulder of lamb and going through my freezer I found a boned and rolled shoulder of lamb which, along with several other choice cuts, has gone unnoticed within the icy depths for quite a while.  I cannot emphasise how much I rate this cut of meat, it is inexpensive and with a little patience yields a sweet and succulent meal fit for kings.

The tagine was delicious and not too labour intensive great for a party and the flavours are just right.  The boned and rolled shoulder was not stuffed (although you could do this yourself easily) and this provided a great Sunday lunch for four without fuss - I think it cost about 11 euro and it fed four.

Slow roast shoulder of lamb, for 4

1 smallish boned, rolled shoulder of lamb, about 2lbs in weight, (standard cut in good butcher but don't be afraid to ask for it to be done for you)
3 garlic cloves cut in half
3 sprigs rosemary
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees

Very simply spike the lamb with a sharp knife and insert the garlic, and rosemary intermittently into the skin of the lamb.

Place the lamb into an oven proof dish and put int he oven for 20 minutes.
After the 20 minutes, turn down the oven to 160 degrees and roast the lamb for a further 45 minutes, 15 minutes per lb plus 15 minutes.
It should be slightly pink in the middle but not raw.
Take it out of the oven and rest for 25 minutes covered with tin-foil and several clean tea-towels for insulation.
Slice and serve.

You can also make a sauce reduction with the juices which are in the bottom of the pan.

Separate the fat from the juice, either by using a fat separating jug(very handy) or simp0ly tip the dish on its side, the fat will float to the top - skim off and drain the fat-free juices into a small heavy bottomed saucepan.
Bring the juice to the boil, add a good glug of red whine and let it reduce for about 5 minutes.  I added 2 tblsps of drained capers to this, although it would be fine on its own - I have a caper fetish and love the slightly sour, salty taste which they add.

I served this with some steamed savoy cabbage, simple and delicious.

my favourite-the midnight leftovers

Lamb tagine

I always think that this looks horrible in preparation as I make it the authentically Moroccan way and do not brown the meat before all the liquids go in.  I have consulted several recipes over the years for this and it seems that everyone stands divided on whether to brown the meat or not - some claiming that it adds more flavour to brown it and others arguing that the stronger taste of the browned meat interferes with the delicate taste of the spices involved.  I do not brown it simply because it inevitably sets of my fire alarm in the kitchen and also takes longer to do - the choice is yours so experiment if you have the time.

You will need, for 6-7:

3lb (boned weight) of lamb shoulder - trim a lot, but not all, of the fat off and dice into cubes
4 tblsps sunflower oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp crushed saffron strands - either crushed with the back of a tea spoon or dissolved in an espresso cup of hot water.
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
sprinklinf of sea salt
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 onion, finely chopped
300g Aegean pitted prunes ( optional but really good)
2 tblsps runny honey
handful of skinned, toasted almonds
handful of fresh coriander leaves for garnish

Place the meat into a large casserole dish (I used my larger le creusset).
Add the oil, saffron, ginger, cinnamon, onion and salt and pepper.
Add enough water to just about cover the meat, stir the whole lot well and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat, put the lid on, and cook on a bare simmer (I cook mine on the smalled ring on the lowest setting with a diffuser) for 1 1/2 hours. 

Add the prunes and cook, uncovered, at the same rate for a further 30 minutes.
The prunes will make it sticky, sweet and will create a think sauce.
Add the honey at this point also.
Add the coriander and the toasted almonds just before serving.  Serve with couscous.

This recipe is by Claudia Roden which I have cooked time and time again, it works really well and is a real hit for a dinner party.  It is also incredibly hands-free and although cannot successfully be prepared in advance and reheated, it is a great dinner party dish as you can spend the 2 hours cooking time on other things.

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