You’ll have guessed by now that I love entertaining. It gives me an excuse to have a go at cooking something I haven’t made before and (as long as everything works out for the best!) I love seeing the smile of their faces when they’re eating.
A few weeks ago my colleague, his wife and babby girl came over for Sunday lunch. Time to make a bit of an effort I thought – but what to make? Hints had been dropped the preceding week for lamb. But legs of lamb are so expensive!
I started having a search through my cookbooks and remembered I had River Cottage‘Everyday’ – if anyone can help make a feast out of cheaper cuts of meat, it had to be Hugh!
Within a few minutes I found exactly what I was looking for. Slow-roast shoulder of lamb with merguez spices. Incredibly simple and the shoulder of lamb cost me just over £18 from my local butcher (around half that of a leg). A further flick through the book and I found the perfect accompaniments; French beans with tomatoes and flatbreads. A little yogurt and mint dressing completed the ensemble.
Something to try without a shadow-of-a-doubt. Word of warning though – it takes around 6 hours to cook so make sure you allow plenty of time! Well worth the wait mind…
Serves 6 – 10, depending on the size of the joint and how hungry you all are!
1 shoulder of lamb, mutton or hogget on the bone
For the spice paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ cinnamon stick, broken up
1 tsp black peppercorns
Pinch cayenne pepper or chilli powder
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, finely shopped
Leaves from 2 large rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1. Toast the cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, cinnamon and peppercorns in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a minute or so. Crush to a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar, then combine with the cayenne pepper or chilli powder, paprika, garlic, rosemary, salt and olive oil.
2. Lightly score the skin of the meat with a sharp knife, making shallow slashes a few millimetres deep and 1 – 2cm apart. Rub half the spice paste all over the lamb shoulder, underneath as well as on top and especially into the cuts. Put into a large roasting tin and place in an over preheated to 220C, Gas Mark 7. Roast for 30o minutes.
3. Remove from the oven and rub the remaining spice paste over the meat using the back of a wooden spoon. Pour a glass of water into the tin (not over the meat), cover with foil and return to the oven. Reduce the heat to 120C/Gas Mark ½ and cook for 6 hours, or until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone. You can add another glass of water halfway through, to keep the pan juices ticking along.4. Transfer the lamb to a warm serving plate. Skim the excess fat off the juices in the tin. Tear the meat into thick shreds and serve with the juices spooned over. I served mine of homemade flatbreads and French beans with tomatoes, both from the same book.