In the Kitchen

This Chef’s Love of Lamb

Slow-braised Lamb

We’re having friends over for dinner tonight so it’s time for a seriously delicious meal. These friends are foodies — the type of foodies you’d better get everything right for!

Andrew is an all-around passionate guy. He loves nature and is a loyal friend. Kirsty, his wife, is an entrepreneur and recently started a business blog based out of Melbourne and an Instagram account called Body Clarity, which is dedicated to health coaching and women’s fitness.

They recently got married, and what a wedding! For their main course they served the most tender lamb (pork too). Their caterer is Argentinian and as they do, they cooked the whole animal on a grid iron in a fire pit.

So today we’re going to play with lamb shoulder. Kirsty has an Italian background so I wanted her to have a taste of my Mediterranean lamb, which is slow-braised and cooked in herbs, garlic and onions.

Slow-cooked is probably the healthiest way to eat. Small bit by small bit, no rush, enjoy every mouthful because it’s beneficial for digestion, and you enjoy the meal more.

I picked up a beautiful lamb shoulder. The meat spoke to me and told me that I should look after it. Sounds weird, but that’s what resonates with me when a well-looked-after animal is being served at the butcher. Don’t just turn it into a burger or overcook it. Give the animal justice.

This lamb recipe is so simple that it’s almost impossible to stuff up. Really, all it takes is putting the ingredients together and letting them cook for five hours at a low temperature of 130C/266F.

As per usual, turn on your favorite music. I’m listening to Cuban jazz/ Afro beats — so inspiring!!!

SLOW-BRAISED LAMB

Serves at least six

Ingredients:

  • 1 lamb shoulder butterflied 1.8kg/ 4lb (ask your butcher to help you)
  • 400ml / 1¾ cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp of tomato puree
  • 7 cloves of smoked garlic (can be found at a specialized deli or farmers market)
  • 3 small brown onions
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • A big bunch of fresh thyme
  • A big bunch of fresh oregano
  • Paprika (3 tbsp)
  • Salt /Pepper
  • Coriander and cumin powder (1 tbsp of each)
  • Olive oil 

Utensils:

  • Large roasting or preferably cast-iron dish (I prefer cast iron, because it holds the heat and is non-stick… well, sort of.)
  • Tin foil
  • If possible, turn your gas barbecue on for some extra smokiness. If not, a big saucepan will suffice.

Directions:

Take the meat out of your fridge and let sit for 30 minutes.

During that time, mix all the spices together, including salt and pepper. Spread it on both sides of your butterflied lamb shoulder. Add some oil and spread it all again.

Let the lamb sit for about 20 minutes. Start firing your barbecue. Gas barbecues heat up quickly and are efficient enough to get some smoke in the meat. (If you use a fry pan, heat it up at a high temperature so that when the meat is placed in the pan, it is seared.)

During this process mix together tomato puree, chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.

Spread half of the herbs in the roasting dish, all the peeled garlic and the onions cut in half.

Once the meat is charred, place it skin-up on top of the herbs.

Slow-braised Lamb

Cover with the rest of the herbs then pour the liquid on top.

Cover tightly with tin foil to keep all the juices together. This method will act like a lid. All the moisture will rise and then drop back into the dish — a perfect symphony for this type of cooking.

Place in the oven at 130C/266F for five hours.

Check the lamb every hour to ensure the liquid is not spilling. At this stage, spoon some of the liquid on the top to keep the top of the meat moist. If you’re losing liquid, add a small glass of water and cover again.

Once you’re happy with your braised dish, remove from heat and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Pull chunks apart and serve with the side dish you enjoy the most.

I matched the lamb with a small salad of shaved fennel, manzanillo / manzanilla green olive cheeks (any green olive will do) with lemon juice and olive oil and some carrot cooked in hay. (FYI: A “cheek” is when you slice an olive along the edge of the pip on all sides to create the look of “cheeks”.)

Slow-braised Lamb

I also added a minted yogurt sauce. Simply blend some mint, cucumber and natural set yogurt in a blender until smooth. Add a little lemon juice and olive oil and keep blending. Add salt and pepper and finish with some chopped parsley.

Have fun and make sure you take your time to cook and eat. This recipe is designed to be shared with good friends and family.

TIP: Leftovers can be finely chopped or shaved the day after and sautéed in a hot frypan to create an all-time kids’ favorite, crispy lamb souvlaki! (Souvlaki is popular in Europe and Australia because it’s seen as “fast food” and is served at Greek and Turkish kebab shops.) So keep a bit of your mint sauce and add it to a bit of lettuce and sliced tomato in a pita bread previously heated to crisp up a bit.

Enjoy! A bientot!

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