After a few (or more) weeks away, travelling and generally being unable to create anything of note, I felt it was time to venture back into the garden and get back into some good old fashioned outdoor cooking
The recipe this time is harissa spiced slow cooked lamb. I love lamb, but always end up getting in a tangle when it comes to carving. Slow cooked lamb seems to offer the best of both worlds - succulent meat and the ability to carve with a spoon. Perfect! I’m desperately trying to avoid mentions of the “middle eastern influence” in this recipe given the wealth of experience of certain community members and the fact I’ve never travelled there, so go easy on me!
Logic (and online recipes) suggest that the best cut of lamb for slow cooking would be the shoulder - it is relatively inexpensive and quite fatty so should hold moisture nicely. Well I did’t have a lamb shoulder in the freezer so half a leg it was
Ingredients are as follows:
1/2 a leg (or shoulder) of lamb - or enough lamb to go round. [I’m quite particular about buying British lamb (if I’m in Britain) as it always makes me uneasy to think about the environmental penalty of transporting NZ lamb halfway across the world. You could argue the same for wine I suppose but I find that easier to justify for many reasons, as discussed recently]
Harissa - you can make your own (caraway seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chilles, paprika, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil) or in this case I have half a jar of shop bought harissa in the fridge
Chipotle chilli paste - partly because I love chipotle and partly as there isn’t quite enough harissa, so it needs a bit of bulking out…
A couple of chopped onions and some garlic
Chicken stock (any stock should be fine but I made a batch of chicken stock in the morning) and lemon / lime juice (approx 250 ml in a 2:1 ratio)
Flatbreads were pre-made (a simple recipe or flour, baking soda, oil and water), or you can just buy them
Salad of your choice. I would heartily recommend plenty of olives and feta, but I actually forgot the feta this time around
Hummus (sorry Inbar - shop bought, not your recipe although I will give that a go soon)
Chilli sauce to serve (used in moderation as this recipe also forms part of a wine tasting experience)
This recipe barely counts as cooking but here goes anyway. Heat the oven (or in this case big Green Egg) to around 250 C
I’ve set the egg up for an ‘indirect’ cook which involves the use of a ceramic heat deflector to give a more even heat. I placed the lamb in a small tray which allowed me to make a sauce and baste throughout the cook. Immediately on putting the lamb in, reduce the heat to around 160 C - you should aim to be at this temperature in about 30 minutes
After this time, remove the lamb, throw in the chopped onions and garlic, put the lamb back on top and add the stock and lemon juice which will reduce throughout the cook. Cover with foil and return to the Egg / oven for a further 3 hours, basting occasionally and topping up the liquid with water if necessary. Remove the foil and leave open for one last hour to get a nice browned finish and to reduce the sauce
The total cooking time was projected to be about 4 1/2 - 5 hours, but a quick Google suggested an internal cooking temperature of 90-95 C should do it so I employed timing and a thermometer to keep an eye on things. Note that I used a pretty small lamb leg (not much more than a kilo) so a bigger piece of meat may need a bit more time. I actually reached about 95 C internal temperature after a couple of hours and decided to just keep it ticking over for the rest of the planned cooking time
While this was cooking, I prepared a simple salad with balsamic dressing with whatever was ready from the veg patch
One of the joys of home grown veg is a fresh garden salad. This one had a base of little gem and some thinly sliced raw baby courgette (try it - delicious). Olives, tomato and cucumber completed the mix
The sauce turned out to be a bit of a disaster as I took my eye off it and it ended up over reducing, catching on the tin and burning. I’d try it again, mainly as it keeps the meat moist during the cook and partly as, aside from the bitter charred taste, there was a nice tangy, chilli heat to it
Once cooked, the lamb was pulled apart with a couple of forks and served with the salad, flatbread wraps (a couple of minutes on the still-hot Egg), hummus and chilli sauce. Simple!
The dish came out really nicely, its certainly a recipe I will tweak and refine (i.e make an edible sauce) but even without that it went down very well. I actually forgot to take a picture of the finished dish but I’m pleased that there are a few leftovers for next week. OK it doesn’t look all that appetising but it tasted great!
I mentioned before the need to use chilli in moderation and that is because I didn’t want to obliterate the chosen wine
Some time ago I started a thread to see what all the fuss about Chateau Musar was about. The overwhelming opinion was “try it” - so we did
2003 Chateau Musar, £25 (mix 6) from Majestic but with a very useful voucher the price came down to about £17.50
The thinking was that Bordeaux goes well with roast lamb, so a “spicy Mediterranean Claret” (as it has been described) might compliment a spiced lamb dish quite well. Maybe I’m over simplifying that - but hey it’s an excuse to give it a try! The delivery driver was kind enough to compliment my selection of wine and described Musar as “like a cross between Rioja and Chateauneuf”. I was excited to try this!
Tasting notes: It’s a pretty, crimson colour. Nose has a touch of farmyard and algae but quickly gives way to spice and almond. The key word on the palate is spice but this is well integrated with hints of chocolate. The S Rhône grapes are really doing their support work well
I was really quite taken by this wine, so much so I’m already planning my next purchase. Thanks all for the nudge to get me to give it a go - its fair to say we weren’t disappointed!