Some of you may have been wondering where the leftover roast lamb came from that I used to make very-un-traditional lamb Stroganoff last week. Well, wonder no more.
This is not the first time I have waxed lyrical about Nigel Slater on this blog. I’m sure I recall saying somewhere that if the house were on fire and I could only save one cookbook, it would be his Kitchen Diaries, and I stand by that choice.
So why do I love him so much? Let me count the ways.
Because he tends to be self-deprecating rather than other chefs and food writers who tend to be stridently self-promoting.
Because the photographs of food in his Kitchen Diaries represent food that is actually going to be eaten, not raw chicken crisped with a blowtorch and sprayed with glycerine by food stylists.
Because his diaries are the perfect format to follow and appreciate the ebb and flow of seasonal eating without making a big issue out of it.
Because his recipes are unfussy and look achievable – no granitas or foams or towers – yet richly flavoured and satisfying.
Because nothing of his that I have ever made has turned out badly.
So yes, you could say I’m a fan… and this dish only confirms my belief in the man. When the weekend is cold and rainy and you have friends coming over for lunch, what can be more satisfying than a leg of lamb, rubbed with spices and left to cook long and slow, till the meat falls off the bones at the mere touch of a fork? Served on cunningly clever chickpea mash with paprika (recipe to follow in a future post) with honey glazed cumin carrots, it simply does not get better than this.
For more luscious lamb recipes, have a look at:
- Meeta’s fettuccini with lamb sausage meatballs
- Michelle’s slow-roast lamb shoulder
- Sarah’s lamb pita pockets with hummus and labneh
NIGEL SLATER’S SLOW-ROAST LAMB
a leg of lamb (about 2.3 kg)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbs sea salt flakes
a pinch of sweet paprika
1 Tbs cumin seeds
2 Tbs thyme leaves
2 Tbs olive oil
a thick slice of butter
Pre-heat the oven to 160C and start making the spice rub. Peel the garlic cloves and lightly crush them together with the salt using a pestle and mortar. Add the paprika, cumin seeds and thyme leaves. Gradually add the oil so as to end up with a thickish paste. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir into the spice paste.
Put the lamb in a casserole dish or roasting tin and rub it all over with the spice paste. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty but if you are squeamish you can use the back of a spoon. make a few holes in the flesh with a skewer and insert sprigs of rosemary. Scatter the chopped onion around the meat and put the roasting tin in the oven for 35 minutes uncovered.
Pour in 250ml water and baste the meat with the liquid, then continue roasting for a further three hours, basting the meat every hour with the juices that have collected in the bottom of the pan.
After 3 hours, remove the pan from the oven and pour off the top layer of oil that has collected, leaving the cloudy, herby sediment. Cover the pan with a lid and set aside for ten minutes to rest. Carve the lamb and serve with chickpea mash, spooning the pan juices over both as you go.
NOTES: The addition of the onions and the rosemary are mine. If you want to leave anything out, leave out the rosemary. The flavour of the onion is indispensable in my opinion. The vaguely Middle-Eastern flavour of the spice rub is just sublime with the lamb, cooking to a crispy crust on the outside while the meat turns soft as butter during that long slow cooking process. A keeper.