Easter Sunday lunch is traditionally lamb with all the trimmings, but we felt like something a bit different this year. Thankfully we were working at The French Rooms restaurant on Easter Sunday morning, serving a take-out brunch, so a slow-cooked recipe appealed to us. I can’t describe the aromas that hit us when we got home. If I could have bottled it, I would have.
We have had requests to share this recipe by the great Yotam Ottolenghi. It was published in the Guardian’s Food supplement as a pre-Easter feature. I haven’t messed with the recipe, tweaked it or, made substitutions. For once, I followed the instructions apart from adding pomegranate seeds on top of the lamb when serving.
My lockdown cookbook of choice – ‘Simple’
The recipe below is similar to the slow-cooked lamb shoulder with mint and cumin featured in one of my all- time favourite cookbooks Ottelenghi Simple which I reviewed in Goodreads, this recipe also requires you to make up the marinade the day before and the finished dish is all the better for it.
Ottolenghi’s Slow-cooked lamb shoulder with figs, herbs and pistachios (The Guardian Food)
Get ahead by making the paste and marinating the lamb overnight, but make sure you take it out of the fridge an hour or two before you want to cook it. After that, it’s just a matter of assembling everything in the pan and leaving it to do its thing in the oven. This goes well with any kind of lightly cooked vegetable side of your choosing.
Prep 25 min
Cook 5 hr 45 min
3 onions, peeled, 1 roughly chopped, the other 2 cut into 6 wedges each
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
30g piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
15g dill, roughly chopped
4 tbsp (15g) flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
45ml olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and black pepper
1 x 2kg bone-in lamb shoulder
3 cinnamon sticks
12 cardamom pods, roughly bashed open in a mortar
150g soft dried figs, two-thirds cut into quarters, the rest into 1cm dice
700ml chicken stock
40g pistachios, very lightly toasted and roughly chopped
2 lemons – 1 juiced, to get 1½ tbsp, the rest cut into wedges, to serve
Optional – pomegranate seeds
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Put the chopped onion, garlic, ginger, spices and 10g each of the dill and parsley in a food processor and blitz until finely minced. Add the oil, vinegar, a teaspoon and three-quarters of salt and a generous grind of pepper, and blitz to a coarse paste. Pat dry the lamb, pierce the flesh all over with the tip of a small, sharp knife (about 10-12 times in all), then coat the lamb with the paste. You can now cook it right away, or refrigerate and marinate for a few hours to overnight.
Put the onion wedges, cinnamon sticks, cardamom and the fig quarters in a large, ovenproof, cast-iron saucepan for which you have a lid (about 28cm in diameter). Lay the lamb fatty side up on top, then pour in the chicken stock around the edges so as not to wash off the marinade. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, baste the lamb with the juices, then cover with a lid, lower the heat to 160C (140C fan)/310F/gas 2½ and roast for four hours, basting it three or four times while it’s cooking. Turn the heat back up to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6, remove the lid and roast for 45 minutes more, or until the lamb is well browned and extremely tender, and the sauce has reduced nicely.
Gently lift the lamb out of the pot and leave it to rest in a large oven tray. Pour the remaining contents of the pot into a large, shallow platter or dish with a slight lip, then put the lamb on top.
Combine the chopped figs with the pistachios, lemon juice and remaining herbs, spoon this mix all over the lamb and serve with the lemon wedges alongside (and pomegranate seeds as they add colour, crunchy texture and an unique sharpness which works well with the lamb).
Important survey –
We are divided in this house on whether it is acceptable to eat lamb cold? The above recipe proves that it is just as delicious slow cooked without the traditional trimmings and the left-overs are divine. I’m in the cold, thinly sliced with mayo and mint sauce camp? Where do you sit on this?