I was inspired to make this for Sunday lunch the night after a big celebration because we woke up absolutely starving, and more than a little worse for wear after lots of partying the night before. So after the obligatory morning coffee, bowl of bran and painkillers, I set about making this. A Sunday roast is always a welcome treat; but when you are really hungry after a big Saturday night, there’s something even more comforting and right about wolfing down huge amounts of meat and veg and potatoes. I used all the traditional ingredients because, yes, yes, we all know they go well with lamb, but then I didn’t want it to look or feel like an uber traditional roast. I wanted this one to have a slightly more edgy note to it so instead of just roasting the lamb, making gravy from the juices, and using plain mint sauce from a jar, I decided to slow cook the lamb in wine and add some colour and fruity freshness. The long stem broccoli gave the plates a more elegant and sexy finish than the usual stubbier version. I wanted this meal to be a pick me up; to look more jazzy than your average roast without deviating too far taste-wise so I was quite fussy about the details. OK so I sometimes get slightly obsessed with the aesthetics of things, but I’m sure you have figured that out by now ;).
I cannot possibly go further without mentioning that the bottle of Sainsbury’s 2011 Torla Rioja from their Winemaker’s Selection that you see in the pictures is the best bottle of red for £4.99 you might ever find. I bought it because after splurging on all kinds of goodies from Waitrose (remember I live in Lagos now, so grocery shopping whenever I am back in the UK is a rare treat for me and I did go rather nuts on occasion) I decided to be a little more frugal with le vino. I wanted to find something that tasted good, but didn’t feel demeaning to drink; and that was cheap enough to make up for my mad run through the food aisles. This turned out to be the perfect candidate and after the first bottle which I bought rather fearfully, I went back to get four more. I served it to a few friends who loved it so much that they then went out to buy it. It became the summer’s dirty little secret. I mean, where was this wine when I was a student? Its timing sucks, frankly, but I shan’t complain. A bargain is a bargain and one must be grateful for a good one whenever it deigns to come along.
Anyhoo, here are the steps for making this meal, and a few pictures of the process. Enjoy!
- Season the lamb. I used the shoulder but you could also use the leg if you prefer. Make the dry rub by mixing a teaspoon of rock salt, a teaspoon of course freshly ground black pepper, a teaspoon of paprika and a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Rub this all over the lamb and massage it in. Imagine you are giving the meat a relaxing spa treatment. Then cut the rosemary into small bunches/stalks and the garlic into slivers – I think here I cut each garlic clove into four long quarters and I used two cloves in total. Using the tip of a small sharp knife, make small incisions in the meat at regular intervals and place garlic and rosemary in alternate holes. Do this all over the lamb and not just on the top surface. This is an all round, full body treatment.
- Put a heavy duty pan on the fire and let it get very hot. Just before it starts to smoke, put the joint of meat in the pan, and let it sear for a couple of minutes. When it is seared enough, the joint will lift off easily. Too soon, and it will tear and stick to the pan. I seared each side for 2 minutes each.
- Now transfer the lamb to a deep pot and pour over the red wine. The wine should come up to about half way up the joint of meat. I used Rioja because it tastes rich, I like it, and that’s what I happened to have, but you can use any other red wine and it should come out just fine. The reason for the deep pan is to allow room for the steam to swirl around happily, helping to cook the lamb. You need to work out the cooking time, depending on the weight of the joint you’re cooking, but I think for this, I baked it at 165*C for two hours plus. That’s because I wanted to cook it low and slow, to make it tender.
- Once the lamb is settled down in the oven, you can make the raspberry mint sauce so that it can chill in the fridge while the other bits are cooking. Take about half a punnet of raspberries and a pack of mint – you need to have more raspberries than mint, to get the redness to pop otherwise this will end up looking dirty and sludgy . Chop the mint leaves finely, and then drop the raspberries onto them in a small mixing bowl. Then take a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and and a pinch of brown sugar, drizzle over the top, then mix gently to break down the raspberries. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge. It will look beautiful when dolloped over the lamb once plated up.
- Now halve and boil the potatoes until just cooked but still quite firm and drain. Put mostly butter and a smidgen of olive oil in a nonstick pan and then place the halves face down when the butter begins to bubble gently. Turn the potatoes over when they’re golden brown and sprinkle on some salt and herbes de provence on each side, then take them off the heat. There is something fantastically naughty about cooking potatoes in butter. *Shivers*.
- Finally, cook the broccoli in a bit of salted water. Literally steep it in boiling water for a minute and then get it out. There’s nothing worse than dead, sodden veg. This needs to be crunchy and alive and fresh.
- You can now plate up and enjoy. Om nom nom nom…
I was so glad I made the effort to make this even though I was bone tired because there were zero leftovers afterward and it was just what we all felt like on that day. It’s funny how I can get really nonchalant about cooking when it is just me, but the moment I have people to cook for, I get all these ideas and I feel inspired. Do you like a good roast too? What are your special secrets? Leave a comment, share, etc etc.
Lots of love xxx