Monday, 18 April 2011

Roast lamb

Quality lamb can be pretty pricey but for a special occasion I do like to splash out on the good stuff.  For Best Beloved's birthday this year our lovely friend Faby was coming for the evening so we decided to go all out & get a really good leg of lamb for the occasion (from the very jolly and helpful Welsh butcher at the farmer’s market).  Whilst it set us back £26, it was well worth the money and ended up feeding us for 3 meals as well as giving a nice stock.   

I like to poke deep holes all over the meat & insert a sliver of garlic & a sprig of rosemary into each one.  We often also pop in a little piece of anchovy to very good effect, it adds a really savoury note to the whole affair without remotely tasting fishy.  I put the lamb into my beloved enamelled roaster and pour over a bottle of red wine.  I add a little lamb stock to the wine or if I don’t have any maybe a splash of soy sauce or a sprinkle of salt.  Over the lamb goes a big handful of bashed up pink peppercorns (a pestle & mortar is by far the best way to deal with the slightly sticky pink pepper as it tends to gum up a normal pepper grinder) and ground black pepper. Into the wine around the meat I put 5-6 whole garlic cloves.  If you are looking to have pink lamb & therefore cooking for less time, I’d poke a little hole in each of the garlic cloves to allow them to cook & melt into the gravy.  If cooking for longer there’s no need as this will just happen by itself.  I also add a couple of desert spoons of redcurrant or cranberry jelly.  This adds a slight sweetness and a whole new layer of flavour such as you get from adding chocolate to a chilli con carne.

When it comes to cooking lamb, length of cooking time and temperature really comes down to personal preference.  To my taste chops and steaks get cooked very hot & fast to ensure a lovely pink interior whereas shanks, leg or shoulder on the bone I like to cook long and slow so the meat just falls off the bone when cooked.  Half way through the cooking I take the lamb out of the oven & poke a chopstick into the end of the bone to get all the lovely marrowbone out and add it to the gravy along with a cup of water if the liquid is running low.  The gravy can be finshed off whilst the meat is sitting to rest. To make the gravy I put the roaster onto the hob and mash the now soft & succulent garlic cloves into the liquid, seaon as needed and either reduce or add water depending on the strength of the flavour.  Once strained, you are left with a gorgeous dark red meaty savoury / sweet liquid in which to douse your entire plate.  If you prefer a thicker gravy, make a little roux of butter and flour and add slowly to the gravy at this stage and stir in very thoroughly.  In the summer I would serve this with a salad and some nice crunchy green beans.  In the still chilly spring I serve with roast potatoes (in goose fat – on a special occasion all fat considerations go out the window) and roasted root vegetables like carrots, beetroot and parsnips, just tossed in olive oil & a little sea salt. After a feast like that, I generally serve fruit salad to cut through the richness of the meat and end on a lighter note.

Maybe not dainty but so delicious!

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