Sunday, 18 November 2012

Recipe: Slow-roast Citrus Lamb with Cinnamon, Fennel and Cumin

One of the best ways to serve roast lamb, for minimal fuss and effort but great results, is to slow-roast a leg of lamb and serve it with crispy roast potatoes. Both times I've cooked this North African-inspired take on slow-roast lamb it has impressed. The house smells glorious throughout and the tender lamb tastes fab with the sweet, spiced flavours of the cinnamon and cumin. If you've got time to marinate the lamb overnight, the finished product is even better. This weekend I treated our guests, the lovely Disco and Girlfriend, to the dish and served it with some spicy potatoes, slathered in a mix of harissa paste, olive oil and lemon, and roasted whole.

Here's what you need (serves 6):

Leg of lamb - mine came from local butcher A. Waller & Sons on Victoria Avenue in Cambridge
1 orange, juice and zest
1 lemon, juice and zest
4 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp ground cumin
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp clear honey

You'll also need a large food / freezer bag and extra large parchment and foil.

For the harissa roast potatoes:

Small, waxy potatoes such as Charlotte or Anya
1 tbsp harissa paste
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 lemon

Toss all ingredients together in a dish, garnished with slices of lemon, and cook at 140 degrees centigrade for 1 hour then at 200 degrees for a further 15-20 minutes to crisp up the skins. 

What to do:

1. First, make sure you have the ingredients and the time (a day in advance of when you wish to serve it) to marinate the lamb. Juice the lemon and orange, retaining the zest, and pour into a large freezer bag with the leg of lamb. Tie securely and place on a tray in the fridge. I like to turn the leg in the juices every so often. 

2. Next, plan your timings. You need to remove the lamb (still wrapped in the citrus juices) from the fridge an hour before you start cooking. Work out when you wish to serve the meat and therefore when you need to rest it, roast it, prep it, etc. 

3. When the lamb has been at room temperature for an hour remove it from the juices, retaining them in a covered jug, and pat the lamb leg dry with kitchen paper. Heat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade, rub the lamb with 2 tbsps of the olive oil and cook the lamb leg for 20 minutes, turning halfway through, until browned.

4. While the lamb is browning, prepare the oven tray and parchment/foil parcel you are going to cook the lamb in by laying a large sheet of foil on a large flat baking tray and covering it with a large sheet of baking parchment. Ensure the sheets are large enough to scrunch up into a big parcel around the lamb, without leaving any gaps.

5. Crush the garlic cloves and combine with the remaining oil, honey, lemon and orange zest, cumin, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and plenty of seasoning. Mix well to form a thick paste.  

6. When the lamb leg is browned, remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 140 degrees. Carefully transfer the lamb to the prepared foil and parchment and rub all over with the paste. Pull the edges of the foil up to form a lip around the whole leg and pour in the retained orange and lemon juices. Cover the lamb with the rest of the foil and scrunch the edges to secure the parcel around the lamb, making sure no juice can escape.

7. Cook the lamb at 140 for 4 hours or so, checking it is cooked by inserting a skewer into the meat. When the juices run clear, the lamb is cooked. Carefully remove from the oven, still wrapped in the foil parcel, and leave to rest for 30 minutes before serving. Carve and drizzle with the juices.

Serve with hot potatoes, baked in their skins, green beans and a Moroccan houmous.

Enjoy! :-)

What's your favourite way to cook lamb?

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