I failed entirely in my intentions for Easter Sunday. After a Lent spent fasting (to read more on that check out my JC focused blog at www.coolchicandinchrist.blogspot.co.uk) I had thought that I would cook a feast and then blog diligently about it. However, I got so involved in the ensuing chow-down (it had been a while since I had enjoyed eating in the middle of the day) that the post didn’t quite happen. So here it is two days late, but still very delicious. Lamb cooked two ways – a classic leg of lamb with roasties and braised savoy cabbage and an altogether “What Jesus would have eaten” Middle-Eastern influenced Lamb and Fig Stew with Pomegranate and Almond Couscous. Let the Eastertide feasting continue!
Roast Leg of Lamb, Goose fat Potatoes, Garlic Carrots and Braised Cabbage
Difficulty Factor: Master the Timings, Master the Meal
1 Leg of Lamb (a joint between 1 – 1.2kgs will feed 6 hungry people)
9 – 10 sprigs of Rosemary
2 Heads of Garlic cut horizontally
6 cloves of Garlic peeled
6 – 8 carrots cut lengthways in half
1 kilo of Maris Piper potatoes
295 grams of Goose Fat
1 Savoy Cabbage cut in thick strips
20 grams of unsalted butter
Salt (to taste)
A good roast is all about timing; the Holy Grail as it were is moist meat that’s been properly rested, piping hot potatoes, and vegetables that add rather than detract to the main event which is the meat. If you’re feeling energetic, then a home-made gravy is great or even as I did deglaze the roasting tin and create a jus that will ensure your guests leave smiling. Also key is an acceptance that this is a fatty dish. Potatoes cooked in goose or duck fat substitutes are just not as yummy as ones that cook swimming in the lard of a water dwelling bird. Nor is cabbage that has not been braised in a large/kind of massive nob of butter, ever as much fun as the stuff that is. Well, maybe there is a case for the merits of Chinese Stir-Fry cabbage, but to truly feast one has to put the calorie counting maths to one side and enjoy the roast in all its excesses.
First, heat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade (Gas Mark 7). Whilst the oven is heating, take your lamb out of the fridge and allow it to get as close to room temperature as possible. Putting an icy cold piece of meat into a piping hot oven will make the meat a little fibrous, and already your roast is in jeopardy. Whilst your meat is out make incisions along the skin and place the peeled cloves of garlic and sprigs of rosemary inside, season all sides of your meat.
Second cut your carrots lengthways and put at the base of the roasting tin/tray you will use for your lamb, add any remaining Rosemary you may have had from piercing the joint, I also through in some Sage as there was some knocking about in the fridge. In addition to this put the two horizontally chopped whole garlic among the carrots. As the roast cooks they will imbue the carrots with a rich aroma.
Meanwhile either scrub or peel the potatoes and cut into similar sizes and bring to the boil in a large sauce pan. Drain and put in a large roasting tin with the whole jar of goose fat and some sprigs of fresh thyme.
Put the lamb on the top rack of the oven. Cook on high for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180 degrees centigrade (Gas Mark 4) for the remainder of the cooking time. The rule of thumb for a perfect roast leg of lamb is 20 minutes in the oven per 450 grams with an additional 20 minutes at the close. If you like your lamb pink then dispense with the final 20 minutes cooking time, if you like it medium to well, keep the 20 minutes in.
To ensure the potatoes cook at the same rate as the lamb, add them to the oven after the initial 15 minute blast for the lamb. We all love a potato that is crispy on all sides, so to make sure this is a reality take your tray out of the oven every 20 minutes and give a quick turn. If you were cooking fewer potatoes the cooking time would be 45 minutes but with the amount in this recipe it is 60 minutes which means both lamb and potatoes will be ready at the same time.
The cabbage is braised in a heavy based pan with 10 minutes to serving time. Melt the nob of butter, season the cabbage and braise for ten minutes. Cabbage is best still a little crisp and a vibrant green. The less it resembles the horrors served in school dinners, the better!
Lamb, Fig and Aubergine Stew with Pomegranate and Almond Couscous (AKA what JC would Eat)
Difficulty Rating: A little Prep and it will do the Rest
For the Stew:
1kg of Lamb neck fillets
1 Large Aubergine, sliced and then cut in quarts
2 Red Peppers sliced in roughly the same size of the Aubergines
250 grams of Dried Figs cut in half
500 grams of Passata
1 Red Onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 heaped tablespoons of Rose Harissa Paste
Salt (to taste)
For the Couscous:
500 grams of Couscous
200 grams of flaked almonds
200 grams of Pomegranate Seeds
I small red onion
50 grams of Chives
50 grams of flat leaf parsley
Juice of 1 Lemon
I created this recipe as a culinary RS project of sorts. I thought to myself, what would Jesus eat or rather what would I cook if he were to come over for supper? I know, very random thought, but it resulted in this rather delish dish. I took middle-eastern flavours and ingredients as my starting point and threw in some biblical references too – hence the lamb and the figs. This dish relies on preparation as the flavours pretty much combine with minimal effort on the cook’s part.
First thing first, chop the lamb fillets into two inch slices. Place in a bowl and season with salt and combine with the two heaped tablespoons of Rose Harissa Paste in a large bowl. Cover in cling film and leave overnight to marinade.
Chop the onions and garlic and fry until the onions begin to clarify. Add the marinated lamb into the saucepan and fry for a few minutes. Next add the remaining ingredients for the stew: the passata, aubergine and red peppers and figs. Bring to the boil and then reduce to gentle simmer and cook for 2 hours or until the lamb is melt in the mouth soft
For the couscous, boil the kettle, place the couscous in a large bowl and slightly cover with freshly boiled water. The couscous is ready when all the liquid is absorbed and it is not granular when you bite into it. If it is still granular, add a tiny bit more water ( be careful: too much and you get porridge) and allow for absorption to take place. Next add the juice of the lemon and the olive oil and fork through the couscous, do not overwork otherwise the consistency will change for the worse.
In a separate heavy based frying pan, heat some olive oil and lightly toast the almond flakes, keep an eye on them and turn frequently as they have a tendency to burn easily. Put the almonds aside in a bowl to cool off and drain excess oil. Whilst the almonds are cooling add the parsley, chives and red onion to the couscous and do the same fork through process. Next add the almonds and finally the pomegranates. It is important the pomegranates are added last as they will burst, and your diners will miss out on the sweet burst of flavour when they bite into them whole.
Plate in whatever way works for you: the room temperature couscous is a delightful accompaniment for the rich intensity of the lamb and fig stew and better yet can be enjoyed all on its own as well if you have veggie guests. A testimony to this dish is that it’s the Tuesday after Easter Sunday and I just had a furtive bowlful as I typed this recipe. I am ever up for a spot of confessional, especially when it involves things that are beyond delish!