Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Succulent Lamb braised and browned

Some people don’t like dark meat, and in particular lamb. This puzzles me, and I find myself reverting to the fascist in the kitchen approach, with thoughts of telling people to sit down and eat and just be grateful. Whilst this isn’t often an effective or popular approach, still, sometimes the lack of appreciation for good food and the skills used in preparing it brings out the dictator in me.

It’s worth trying out this recipe, without worrying about rejection from the no-dark-meat lobby, since it’s on record for changing people’s minds. The meat is braised and then browned in the oven, and the meat is so tender it falls off the bone. The spicy paste is infused into the meat, giving a luscious red colour, from the paprika. The last spell in the oven creates a wonderful crust.

I like to use a leg of lamb, chopped in two. Shoulder is also good. The main thing is to use meat on the bone, for more flavour, and to have it in pieces that you can manage easily in the pan.
I like to prepare the meat the day before, or at least for an hour before cooking starts.


4 lb leg of lamb, cut into two or shoulder of lamb cut into four parts
2 cloves garlic
pinch powdered saffron
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1½ tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cups grated onion (two small onions)
salt to taste
5 sprigs green coriander tied in bunch with thread

Mash the peeled garlic cloves with the spices and butter, to make a paste.
Trim surface fat off the joint.
Rub the butter mixture over the meat and set aside for at least an hour, or overnight in the fridge.
Put the grated onion together with two cups of water into a heavy-based pan large enough to fit the meat, and add the meat.
Bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 1 hour, basting and turning the meat occasionally.
Add the coriander and cook for another hour or until meat is tender and falling away from the bone – add water if needed.
Lift the meat out, put in oven dish and cover.
Let cooking liquid cool and skim the fat off – this can be used to cook and flavour fried potatoes, if you like.
Reduce the fat free cooking liquid to a thick gravy.
Set the oven to heat to hot, 450F/230C/gas mark 8.
Bake the lamb for 30 mins, basting with thickened gravy, to give a brown crust.

Serve with couscous and salad, or steamed potatoes and salad.

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