Friday, 25 January 2013

Slow Roast Lamb (and what to do with the leftovers)

The best thing, for me, about this icy weather is the food you can cook to keep the cold at bay. Last week we made a particularly nice roast lamb leg that I feel needs sharing. We actually used a slow cooker for this-the first time I have used one- but if I was doing this at home I would just cook the lamb in a low oven, covered in foil. You could also use shoulder, instead of leg, which I think might be even nicer.
This is one of those recipes that are far to forgiving and flexible to be put into a strict recipe.

Start late morning/ just after an early lunch. Heat the slow cooker, or put the oven onto a low heat- about 150C. Make a paste, either with a blender, or some dedicated knife work with 3 cloves of peeled garlic, 2-3 anchovy fillets, a handful of rosemary leaves, a spoonful of capers, and some lemon zest. Add olive oil to make it a spreadable consistency. Set aside. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan, and brown the lamb all over, taking your time to get in a good colour. Remove from the heat, and with a spoon, spread the paste allover the leg- it's easiest to do one side, put it in the slow cooker or roasting dish the other way up, and then spread that side with the paste. Add some white wine, and a few peeled but whole shallots. With the wine, we used about 1 large glass, but as the resulting juices were so delicious, I would say use at least half a bottle, possibly the whole thing. Cover, with foil if you are cooking in the oven, or with the lid if you are using a slow cooker. Leave to cook until dinner time, maybe turning the joint over once.
All you need to do is carve the lamb (not proper carving, it is too soft for that), and drain the fat off the gravy, and serve.

I would usually coat the lamb in the paste before browning, but found that the flavours tasted much fresher without the extra cooking.

You can do the obvious with the leftover meat (sandwiches, shepherds pie), but a surprisingly successful meal was a homespun kebab. Split a pitta per person, and spread generously with hummous and fill with the cold lamb. Wrap each pitta in foil individually, and heat in an oven at 180C for 10-15 minutes. Prepare the extras- we had cubed feta, red onion very finely diced, thin strips of pepper, halved cherry tomatoes and stoned olives. I think it is much nicer to have these components separate, so everyone can make their ideal pitta. I also made some garlicky creme fraiche to go alongside- yoghurt would have been the more natural choice, but use whatever's in your fridge.

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