Sunday, 16 March 2014

Slow Roast Lamb, Spiced Cauliflower & Creamy Potato Gratin

I’ve mentioned before the half lambs purchased from bf’s boss, well we were onto half lamb number 2 and at this point all we had left was shoulder. As the bf’s offspring was with us for the weekend it seemed a good time as any to have it. Well, that and the fact that for once we actually remembered to take the lamb out of the oven to defrost ready for use for a Sunday lunch feast.

Slow-cooking is the only way to go really with shoulder: which means that I can get it ready, bung it in and then get on with prepping and worrying about the rest. One thing to worry about with anything slow cooked and ergo at a low temperature is that choosing sides to accompany is a bit of a pain in the arse. Unless you have a double oven (one day, one day..) you are stuck at the one temperature for the duration of the roasting: roast potatoes for instance are out as they need a high temperature for at least 45 minutes.

So I decided on a couple of things that could be semi-cooked at a reasonably low temp, or on the hob and then blasted for 15 minutes at a higher temperature while the lamb was rested and subsequently shredded and the gravy / sauce made.

My advice here therefore is to get the lamb in and then a couple of hours later prep the ingredients for the cauliflower, gratin and sauce.

Half an hour before the lamb is due to come out (so about 3.5 hours in) get the potato slice, milk, cream combo going on the hob and chuck the cauliflower in the oven. Keep an eye on the latter and take out again once it starts to brown.

When the lamb comes out, whack the oven temperature back up to 240C, tip the potato mixture into a dish and grate over the cheese, dot with butter and put that on the top shelf with the cauliflower on the bottom. Get on with sauce and then shred the lamb. 15 minutes later everything should have come together beautifully.

Slow Roasted Lamb
2.5 kg shoulder of lamb
2 onions, sliced thickly
3-4 carrots, halved lengthways
4 -6 large sprigs rosemary
4-6 large springs of mint
1 bulb of garlic, broken into cloves (unpeeled)
olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
200ml white wine
200ml chicken or vegetable stock

Preheat the oven at its highest temperature (usually about 250C).

Lay the onion slices over the bottom of a high sided roasting tin then lay half of the garlic cloves on top along with half of the rosemary and half of the mint.

Score the skin side of the lamb by using diagonal cuts about 1-2 cms apart, no deeper than about an inch.

Rub all over with oil and za'atar and a generous amount of salt and black pepper. Place skin side up on top of the garlic and herbs and then add the rest of the herbs and garlic on top of the lamb.

Tip in the wine and stock and tuck the carrots alongside the lamb.

Cover as tightly as possible with foil then place in oven and turn down to 150C/340F.

Roast for four hours by which time the lamb should be very tender and falling off the bone.

Remove the lamb and carrots to a plate, set aside on top of a wooden chopping board and cover tightly with foil and a tea towel on top of that. Leave to rest for 15 minutes before shredding or pulling the meat off in chunks.

Piquant Gravy 

½ tbsp flour
the liquid from the lamb roasting tin
1 heaped tbsp capers, soaked, drained and finely chopped
½ large bunch fresh mint, leaves picked, finely chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Discard any bits of rosemary & mint stalk from the tray. Pick out the garlic cloves and about half of the onion and set aside.

Tip the liquid into a measuring jug, let it settle and then spoon off and discard most of the fat from the top. Spoon 1-2 tbsp of the fat back into the roasting tin.

Using a stick blender whizz up the contents of the jug very carefully.

Put the roasting tin on the hob over a medium heat and mix in the flour, scraping up any stuck on bits from the bottom as you go. Add about ⅔ of the cooking liquid from the jug, stirring all the time.

Leave to simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the capers, turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes more.

Just before serving add the mint & red wine vinegar to the sauce, give it a stir and pour into a jug.

Spiced Cauliflower
I’d bought a little selection pack of Halen Mon salts when we were in Wales (and on Anglesey specifically) earlier this year but if you’re not lucky enough to have any at your disposal use some spices such as cumin & turmeric as well as some smoked or normal Maldon sea salt.

1 small/medium cauliflower, broken into small florets
Halen Mon sea salt with spices
Halen Mon sea salt smoked over Welsh Oak
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil spray

Preheat the oven to 240C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place the florets on the baking tray and spray with olive oil a few times, toss the tray around a little and spray again.

Sprinkle over the sea salts and freshly ground black pepper and toss around again so that the florets are evenly coated in oil and spices.

Shake the tray so the florets are in as evenly a single layer as possible then place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, turning the tray every now and again (NB see note at top).

Creamy Cheesy Potato Gratin
Serves: 3-4

1 kg potatoes, peeled and cut into slices 1 cm thick
250ml full fat milk
250ml double cream
1 small banana shallot, peeled and halved
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt flakes
25g unsalted butter
50-60g jarlsberg cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 240°C.

Put the potato slices into a large saucepan with the milk, cream, onion, minced garlic and salt.

Bring to the boil and cook at a robust simmer until the potato slices are tender but not dissolving into mush (this is a fairly tough call to be fair!). Discard the shallot.

Use a little of the butter to grease a medium sized tin or lasagne dish and then pour the milk, cream & potato mixture into it.

Sprinkle over the grated cheese then dot with the remaining butter.

Cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until the potato is bubbly and browned on top. Remove and let stand for 5 minutes or so before serving.

Finally, serve everything up on to the middle of your dining table and let everyone serve themselves!

1 comment:

  1. Im missing roast dinner. this is proper food porn for me...

    Oliver Bennett