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.

Ingredients:
• 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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