Lamb with Merguez Spices

A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of some spices frying (well done to Spring Tomorrow for identifying the spices in the picture!) and promised that I would be blogging the full recipe within a few days.  Unfortunately I was so keen to eat it I forgot to take a photograph of the finished article! Still, it meant we got to eat it again which was great!  Every cloud…

Now, this doesn’t fit into the “quick dinner” category, as the lamb is slow-cooked over a number of hours (up to six).  But it isn’t labour-intensive as for most of that time the lamb is gently cooking in a low oven so you can get on with the rest of the day and enjoy the incredible smells coming from your kitchen! It’s great for a weekend supper or if you have time to get the first part done at lunchtime then you can eat it in the week.  This is a recipe taken from River Cottage.

• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tsp coriander seeds
• 1 tsp fennel seeds
• 1 tsp black peppercorns
• ½ cinnamon stick
• Pinch cayenne pepper
• 2 tsp smoked paprika
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• Leaves from 2 rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
• 2 tsp sea salt
• 2 tsp olive oil
• 1 shoulder of lamb
DSCN1349Pre-heat the oven to 220oC fan.  As pictured above the first 5 spices were dry-fried for a minute or so until they released a gorgeous smell (keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn).  I then gave these a good whizz in a food processor – a pestle and mortar would do this job just as well.  Once the spices resembled a coarse powder I combined them with the remaining paste ingredients and smeared half of the paste over the lamb (which I had previously made a few slashes in to help the flavours permeate the meat).

The lamb then goes into the oven for 30 minutes, after which the remaining paste is spooned over the meat and a glass of water added into the roasting dish.  Cover with foil and turn the oven down to 130oC fan.  Now the recipe calls for the lamb to be left for 6 hours although I am rarely organised enough to give it any more than four!

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After this time the meat will be amazingly tender and can be carved using a couple of forks to give a lovely shredded look.  With the juices that have collected in the roasting dish I skimmed off the fat and add the remaining liquid to some vegetable stock, which I then thicken with cornflour to make the gravy (if that’s too much effort then just crack out the instant gravy!).  We had this with some mashed potato, sugar snap peas and some kale, again grown by my green-fingered wife!

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Lamb with Merguez Spices

Just a little preview, full blog post coming later this week…


First part of this recipe involves dry-frying these spices before making them into a paste with some other ingredients and then spreading all over the lamb.

As a little quiz to get your brains working on a Sunday – can you work out from the photo above what the 5 spices/ingredients are that I am frying in the pan?  If you click on the photo you should be able to see a larger image.  Feel free to have a guess in the comments below, I’ll be publishing the answer in the full blog post later this week.

Leg of Lamb with Lemon and Rosemary

Many of the supermarkets do a deal on roasting meats ahead of the Easter weekend, which is an excellent opportunity to buy a slightly more expensive (or larger!) cut of meat.  It really is worth spending a little more when buying meat as I really think you get what you pay for.  Also, the better the quality of the meat, the less you have to do to make it taste really good (bit of a cliché but it’s true).


I took the leaves off of a couple of large sprigs of rosemary, sliced a lemon and two cloves of garlic thinly as the picture above.  DSCN1220I then cut the sides of the lamb leg (2.2kg) with a carving knife to make some long slashes in the sides of the meat and posted in the rosemary, lemon and garlic.  I then drizzled some olive oil over the top and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

I then put the lamb into the oven for 1hr45mins at 190oC, taking it out and allowing it to rest for 15 minutes before carving.  We had this with some roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli and some really thick gravy.  Yum!

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Lamb, Gnocchi & Aubergine Moussaka

One of the great things about the supermarket I use (mentioned in a previous post) is that their website is full of recipes, many of which create meals that are ready in minutes.  I often find when I’m doing the online shopping that after I buy all the essential bits I have an entry on my list “Dinner bits”.  This is the point where I look out the room, trying to avoid buying the same things that I did last week.  Maybe even make a cup of tea to see if an excellent idea for dinner will pop into my brain as I am filling the kettle…

This moussaka recipe is taken from the Waitrose website, under the “Meals in minutes” section, and is ready in under 40 minutes.  It uses just a handful of ingredients…OK, you would need a pretty big hand to hold all these things, but you get the idea!


Firstly I preheated the oven to 200oC fan.  Then, I fried the lamb until it had turned brown, then added the tomato sauce, gnocchi and 100mls of water (not pictured!).  Let this simmer covered for 5 minutes, then take the lid off and allow it to bubble for 3 minutes.


You then tip the whole mixture into a lasagne dish and place thin slices (about ½cm) of aubergine on top.  Then beat two eggs together and mix with 150mls yoghurt (I might have used a bit more yoghurt than this) and pour over the aubergine.  Then bake it in the oven for 20 minutes.


This is seriously tasty, the gnocchi absorbs the sauce and the tomatoes help to cut through the richness of the lamb.  This is also a good way to get AB (eldest son) to eat aubergine which often doesn’t appeal to children!

Spiced Roast Lamb

It took me a while to realise this but lamb really is the best meat to roast!  It is great by itself, but even better with this spice rub placed on the top before going into the oven.  I used a butterflied leg of lamb from the supermarket (the one that begins with a W!) which was perfect for “Family B” – 2 adults and two kids.  The benefit of this smaller cut of meat without a bone in is that it cooks in under an hour which is great for a midweek dinner.


So, what did I do?  This is so simple you can’t really call it a method, I just took 2tsp coriander seeds, 2tsp fennel seeds, 2tsp cumin seeds, pinch chilli, salt to taste and smashed the seeds in a pestle and mortar a bit.  I like to leave it fairly coarse as the seeds look really attractive – and seems to be less likely to burn in a hot oven as it would be if you ground them into a powder.  I then added a glug (very scientific measurement of course!) of veg oil to make a paste then spooned it over the top of the lamb as the picture above.

I then put it into the oven, 190oC fan for 50 minutes and took it out for about ten minutes before carving into thin slices.

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It’s hard to tell from the photo but this was cooked medium/well done, if you like it rarer then just take it out of the oven a bit earlier.  I served this with some lentil dhal (recipe to follow on a future blog post) and a few tortilla wraps – chapattis would work really well too.  This quickly resulted in clean plates all round which is always a good result!

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