I love a Sunday roast and this is definitely one of my favourites. It’s easy to prepare and pretty much looks after itself for a few hours. Shoulder or leg of lamb baked slowly in a heady spice mix and then roasted with crisp onions and potatoes cooked in the rendered fat is just delicious served with the sides of your choice; I usually sautée some courgettes or steam some French beans and add fast-pickled red onions and red pepper relish on the side. If there is any lamb leftover, it’s great in the hotpot I posted a couple of weeks back.
- Spice mix: seeds from 2 cardamom pods, 1 clove, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 5g coriander seeds, 10g cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp chilli flakes, 5g ground allspice, 1/4 tsp ground white pepper, 9g salt, 10g soft dark brown sugar, 1tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground turmeric.
- 2kg to 2.5kg shoulder or leg of lamb on the bone
- 2 cloves of garlic – leave in the skin
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 medium potatoes, parboil them whole or prick them and zap them in the microwave for 4 minutes on high – allow them to cool
- 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced from root to tip
- Salt, black pepper, ground cumin
- Fast-pickled onions: finely slice a red onion and leave to marinate in a pinch of salt and sugar dissolved in a couple of tablespoons of red wine vinegar for an hour before serving.
- Red relish: 3 skinned and finely chopped ripe tomatoes, 75ml extra-virgin olive oil, 1 chopped red roasted piquillo pepper, 1 finely chopped shallot, 1 finely chopped red chilli, 1 tablespoon of harissa paste, 2 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp ground cumin, juice and zest of a lemon, 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, a pinch of sea salt. Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Serve at room temperature.
- First, make the spice mix. Lightly toast the hard spices to release the flavour i.e. cardamom seeds, clove, fennel seeds, coriander seeds. Allow to cool and then finely grind with the chilli flakes (I use an electric coffee grinder I keep especially for this or you could use a mortar and pestle). Mix in with the allspice, white pepper, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric. It will smell amazing! Whatever you don’t use can be kept in an airtight jar and will keep for a couple of weeks – you can use it on beef and chicken too so it’s very versatile.
- Next, lay the lamb joint in a roasting dish (one big enough to take the lamb and the potatoes later) and dust generously with the spice rub. Turn the joint and rub the mixture in with your hands. You want to cover it thoroughly without wasting the rub so add it gradually. Season it generously with salt and black pepper. I use Kosher salt as it penetrates the meat more easily. Set aside for at least an hour to allow the mix to permeate the flesh – you can prep this the night before and leave it in the fridge but remember to bring it back up to room temperature before you want to cook it.
- Preheat your oven to 140°.
- Drizzle the lamb joint with a little olive oil and rub it in – it needs to be just glossy not swimming in oil as the lamb will render its own fat during the cooking process. Tuck the garlic cloves under the lamb. Cover the tray with foil and put it in the oven for up to 4 hours. The lamb should bake in its own juices becoming super-tender and full of flavour.
- After 4 hours, remove the lamb from the oven and uncover. Drain off the juices into a small saucepan to make a sauce later but leave all the fat. Remove the whole garlic cloves. They should be soft and you can squeeze the cooked garlic from the skin and whisk it into the sauce.
- Turn up the oven temperature to 200ºC.
- Place the sliced onions and potatoes around the meat and ensure that they are fully coated with the fat that has rendered from the lamb.
- Return to the oven for 40 minutes – the lamb, potatoes and onions should crisp up beautifully. Once it’s ready, take it out of the oven. Lift the meat onto a large carving board – it should be torn easily with a couple of forks. Spoon the garlic-infused gravy over the shredded meat and season with sea salt, pepper and ground cumin. Arrange the crisp onions and potatoes onto the carving board. Carry the board to the table with pride!
- Serve with green vegetables or a salad, fast-pickled onions and red relish on the side.
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Oh my word! It was a pure delight!
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