Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Jamie Oliver's slow roast shoulder of lamb with root mash and two sauces

This was our Christmas Eve meal. And what a meal. It's one of those recipes that, like the Brisket Chili, you will cook again and again.

I was cooking for 5 on Christmas Eve and our butcher suggested a whole shoulder would be required. At £10 this seemed like good value and an affordable way to feed a few people. It was certainly a lot more affordable than using a leg of lamb - less than half price in fact.

The original recipe calls for rosemary and garlic to be added to the lamb for roasting, but I didn't bother. I simply browned it in the roasting pan then covered it tightly with tin foil and put it in a very hot oven. As soon as it goes into the oven the heat gets turned down low, to about 170, lower if you've got a hot oven.

After an hour or so you can start to smell the lamb cooking, which certainly doesn't hurt the appetite!

With about half an hour to go I prepared 2 large carrots, 1 large celeriac and a few potatoes. They all went into big pot of cold water and then went on to boil. A few recipes I've read suggest cooking root veg from cold to ensure proper cooking throughout. Whether it is important or not, the veg always end up very tender.

Once cooked, the veg is drained and allowed to steam for a few minutes to help reduce any excess moisture. Then it's mashed with as much butter as you like, ideally quite a bit, and some salt and pepper. You can go for a smooth, uniform texture if you want, or leave it chunky which I think is more visually appealing.

When the lamb is ready, after about 4 hours, take it out of the oven and rest it on a clean chopping board covered with tin foil and a tea towel or two. Use the roasting pan juices to make a great gravy. You can either do this the English way and add some browning and thickening agents. Or go French/Italian and just reduce the juices slightly for a sauce that is thinner but just as tasty.

To go with the lamb I made a couple of sauces. Well, one sauce and one dry seasoning. I made a simple fresh mint sauce using a little water, some sugar, lots of fresh, chopped mint and some white wine vinegar.

I also made some Dukkah, an Egyptian dish of various seeds (cumin, coriander, sesame) and almonds which are roasted then crushed and spiced with paprika. The result is a wonderfully nutty, crunchy and spicy tasting seasoning which works with just about everything. It's great with oily/fatty foods like lamb and fish such as mackerel and herring. It also works very nicely with bread dipped in oil.

If success is clean plates, then this was a success. There was nothing left. The meat could be 'carved' with a spoon and just about fell off the bones and was devoured by everyone. The root mash was a similar hit, and everyone seemed to enjoy the dukkah as well.

What can I say? Give it a go. You won't be disappointed.

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