ROAST LAMB An all-time menu favourite.
Play with the heat for perfect spring lamb every time
Cooking food every day is a lot like training for and playing Premiership football week in, week out. A lot of the time you are preparing for events, but much of the time there is a lot of just hacking away, sometimes performing badly, sometimes getting a break and doing well. And then sometimes, something extraordinary happens – and something of true, delicious beauty is achieved.
In cooking, you seek to achieve a desirable standard that you can stand over. In truth, sometimes you fail, sometimes you succeed. But only by doing the ordinary repeatedly can you experience the golden moments.
It is thinking outside the box and trying a new thing, for no reason other than the fact that you have not tried it before. Sometimes we don’t know where we are heading. It’s ok, it’s all about being in the mix… Like the wise tell us, the reward is not about the final destination, it’s the journey.
Blast-and-chill roast lamb
Spring lamb is now for sale. Should you pick a lamb born early this year? Would a lamb born last year have more flavour? How and what was it fed to get it to the table? Is it lowland or hill lamb? Ah, the questions and variations abound. Don’t get freaked out: Go to your local butcher and ask for their help. For this recipe, ask your butcher for a shoulder or leg to feed five. If there’s too much to eat in one sitting, you can always eat in over next days from tinfoil in the fridge.
For this recipe you are going to employ the two-stage ‘blast and chill’ style of cooking. You are gonna blast the meat in a very hot oven, this seals the meat, gets the fat running and crisps up the outside skin. Then, you are gonna drop the heat below normal, but extend the cooking time.
Finally, you are gonna ensure the meat sits still, and not too hot, for ten minutes before serving. Then you gonna enjoy it + have a think about it. Just think and chew.
Take your meat out of the fridge and leave it on a table, covered, for two hours. Starting with the meat turned upside down, you gotta think what side you cooking up, pour a little olive oil over meat + move around with your hands. The oil is not all that necessary, but it helps your flavours stick to the meat. For flavours, I like garlic and rosemary, or rosemary and lemon, or thyme and black pepper or sage and prosciutto – lots of possibilities.
Apply your selected flavour to the outside, rubbing in with your fingers. You can also cut small, neat inserts into meat with short, sharp knife and insert your selected flavouring herbs/seasoning – but be delicate. No massacres.
Turn your meat over and repeat the above on other side, then place the shoulder in the pre-heated oven. Blast at 210 degrees for 15 minutes, then down to 150 degrees, cover, and cook another 60 or 70 minutes. Insert a knife neatly into the meat to judge when it’s finished to your liking.
Serve with boiled new spuds and leeks or broccoli.
Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Ann’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm, and Newport Street Market on Fridays, 11am to 4pm.