from one generation to the next
Roast lamb was once Australia’s national dish, lamb roasted in the English style with the vegetables sizzling in the pan drippings around the joint. The ubiquitous Anglo Aussie Sunday roast always well cooked, with spuds and pumpkin and peas, served smothered in pan juice gravy and mint sauce, a dish that would take you home to your Mum.
Roast lamb was and still is popular because it’s delicious. Aussie lamb is of a very high quality. It spends it’s entire life free ranging on grass or salt bush and goes to market before it reaches one year old, while it can still officially be labelled lamb and command a good price.
A deboned leg of lamb roasted in the charcoal barbecue is a family favourite, cooked in 40 minutes, on the table in an hour, an impressive meal I can pull off without batting an eyelid, but on a lazy Sunday, with nothing better to do than hang around the house I will slow roast a lamb shoulder, on the bone for six hours. The house fills with the delicious smell which has you salivating for hours.
I intended to six hour roast this whole shoulder of lamb when I bought it, then Paula Wolfert’s Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Browned Almonds caught my eye, another recipe to contribute to The Cookbook Guru
You need to plan ahead and begin this dish the day before serving. The first step is to make a spiced butter to rub onto the joint then after a brief rest, the lamb, with a few aromatics is braised over a low heat on the stove top for three hours. After chilling the meat and skimming the stock, the dish is finished the next day.
Breaking the meat into chunks after it’s been chilled gives you the chance to discard all the internal fat. The meat is then browned until well caramelized. Wolfert advocates using liberal amounts of butter, but a tiny amount in a well seasoned cast iron pan worked well for me. The meat is then glazed with an unctuous sauce made by reducing the braising juices.
I served the fall apart glazed lamb on a bed of lemony pilau with some steamed veg.
I made a number of changes to the method, it just happened that way, but the end result was delicious anyway. I adjusted and adapted the ingredients to fit my smaller shoulder of lamb and my dietary guidelines.
Would I make this dish again? I’d certainly use the cooking method again, the meat was incredibly moist and not at all fatty and you would never have suspected it was reheated, but in hindsight I’d save my expensive saffron for a more subtly spiced dish.
Here’s my recipe, closely adapted from_
Paula Wolfert’s Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Browned Almonds.
1 shoulder of lamb, bone in
1 pinch of saffron stamens
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon hing
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teas ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground chillis
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
2 cinnamon stick
a small bunch of coriander leaves and roots
a small bunch of garlic chives
1 litre of vegetable stock
1/2 cup blanched almonds
Trim all the external fat from the lamb.
Light toast the saffron until brittle then grind it to a powder with the salt.
Make a spice paste with the softened butter, the saffron salt and the remainder of the spices.
Smear the lamb with the spice paste and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Put the spiced lamb into a heavy based, lidded casserole dish.
Add the herbs, cinnamon stick and stock, then enough water to bring the level half way up the side of the lamb.
Bring the casserole to the boil, cover the meat closely with sheet of baking paper, cover the dish then reduce the heat to a low simmer.
Braise the meat for 3 hours basting it every 1/2 hour or so.
Remove the meat from the stock being careful to keep the meat on the bone. Wrap tightly in foil and chill overnight.
Strain the stock and chill.
The next day, about 30 minutes before serving, brown the almonds in a little oil, drain on a square of kitchen paper and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 120C.
Skim the fat from the sauce, then reheat until simmering.
Break the lamb into large pieces discarding any fat.
Heat a 1 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan then brown the lamb on all sides in the butter.
As a crusty residue forms on the base of the pan add a little sauce, allow it to sizzle then spoon it over the meat.
Continue adding sauce to the pan and basting the meat until the meat is beautifully glazed.
Transfer the meat to an ovenproof platter and keep warm in the oven.
Add the remaining sauce to the pan and reduce until thick enough to coat a spoon.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Arrange the meat on a bed of lemony pilau or couscous, spoon over a little sauce and scatter the fried almonds on top.
Serve at once with the remaining sauce on the side.