VARIETY There are a host of ways of enjoying a local lamb dish.
Fifty-two of mum’s family gathered out west near Tullabawn last week for a family party. Out of six siblings only two remain, so we were gonna party for sure! A planned beach party with lamb cooked on a spit was abandoned because of weather conditions, and the Killadoon Community Centre stepped in as a venue. The superb community allowed us to deck out the hall, lay tables, put up the family photos, and read poems and recitals to past family members. But! The food had to be cooked off site and brought in prepared … gulp!
Change of plan
In stepped the local butcher and the lamb carcass that had hung for a week was divided up. Cooking began on Friday evening. The shanks were browned off, onions, carrots, garlic, new season turnips, and potatoes added, stirred, then a half litre of red wine and pearl barley added to mixture, covered with a lid and simmered all night long. In the morning the shanks were fished out, the meat was shredded with two forks and returned to the mix.
Both forelegs were browned off late Friday night, one pre-studded with half cloves of raw garlic. The browning, about 3 minutes each turning, creates a lovely caramalisation and flavours along the skin. One leg was prepared without any garlic, for those allergic to it. These were covered overnight, ready for cooking in the morning.
‘The argument’ goes that really intense flavours mixed into a paste; capers and diced anchovies, or black olive and minced garlic, can be rolled or stuffed with meats to roast in the oven. These strong flavours infuse their unique characteristics into creating an exotic dish, hey presto. The other side of ‘the argument’ goes ‘what are ye doing ye spanners? You’ve got top class, local reared, grass-fed Mayo lamb there, do as little as possible to it and simple cook it out to enjoy the true characteristics of good meat that needs nothing more’.
Boned and rolled lamb shoulder
This is a traditional dish – probably slightly out of fashion because it’s time-consuming - but it’s well worth the effort! I decided to do it alone simple, non-exotic, line.
Ingredients you require
- 1 x lamb shoulder boned by local butcher
- butchers string for tying the shoulder
- 1 x glass white wine
- 4 x sprigs rosemary,
- olive or rapeseed oil
- 125g Breadcrumbs
- 4 x tbsp chopped mixed herbs
- Half medium white onion thinly chopped
How you make this
Remove the lamb shoulder from the fridge to reach room temperature an hour before cooking. Next, lay it out on a wooden board. Spread the stuffing mix all over the opened-out shoulder, including the flap. Rub the stuffing all around the meat, then roll it up as tight as possible using butchers string to secure it. I always rub some oil and sea salt into the meat before ‘browning’ but not too long before, otherwise the salt draws out the moisture.
Over a medium heat in a thick-bottomed pan cook the rolled shoulder for 3 mins each turn, turn it maybe four times. Place in an oven dish, add white wine and rosemary and a sprinkle of vegetable stock. Cover with tin foil and cook in 160c oven for 90 mins. The browning has begun the cooking process already; the oven part of the process slow cooks the meat. I was surprised it was completely cooked and soft, tender in 90 mins.
Remove from dish and place on warmed plate, cover. Pour the liquid from oven dish into a jug and place in fridge till the fat separates. Cut the butchers string with a sharp knife and, holding the roll in one hand, cut slices away. Place on serving dish, remove jug from fridge, break a hole in the fat covering and pour the pure, delicious juices over sliced meat. Serve with green salad for lunch or with new potatoes for dinner.
The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.