Thursday, 8 April 2010
Like most people, I like a good roast. My meat of preference has to be lamb. Nothing beats a lovely cut of lamb, slowly cooked. Essential enhancements include the obvious rosemary or thyme; the sweet flavours of roasted garlic; the necessary aid of olive oil and maybe butter; salt and the debatable pepper…. and anchovies. Yep, anchovies. Fish and lamb is a bizarre combination, but anchovies are no ordinary fish. How does this work? Well, anchovies are in so many recipes, people sometimes don’t even realise. For example, it’s in Worcestershire Sauce; it’s also in most Caesar salad dressings. It appears (or doesn’t cause it’s hard to tell in some cases) in a lot of food. It acts as a flavour enhancer due to its salty quality, and because it’s so small, it tends to melt right down and leave no trace of fishiness. It’s defiantly one to try in spaghetti, or as I’ve done here, in a roast lamb.
I invested in a lovely cut of boneless shoulder of lamb. Around 950grams. The shoulder is not that expensive. As it comes rolled and tied in string, there is a good amount of fat going through the meat but still needs to be oiled/buttered well. There is the option of unrolling the meat, stuffing it and rolling it up again. This is great as shoulder can be quite tough, so stuffing can soften the meat and also help it take on some more flavour.
I started off by peeling 8 cloves of garlic and wrapping them in anchovies. I cut eight slots, four down each side of the piece of meat, being careful to cut only halfway deep. I stuffed each slot with my anchovies and garlic. This was satisfying. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I think it might have something to do with the oily anchovies and the plump meat. Even more satisfying was rubbing the meat with a concoction of olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper, and butter which I grinded together in a pestle and mortar. I like getting my hands messy, and massaging the meat and smelling the beautiful oils of the rosemary brought back memories…. Memories of the rosemary bush that sat outside my high school’s English department. The same bush I pushed a good friend into as a “friendly” joke. My poor friend smelt of rosemary all day, and when asked why she smelt of rosemary had to explain her unfortunate incident. For this I am very sorry.
So… anywho, I placed the lamb on two thickly sliced onions to help even cooking and flavour. My rule for cooking lamb is as follows; 15 minuets for every 450g, and an initial 20 minuets at the beginning in a pre heated oven at 230°c. The oven should be turned down to 180°c for the remaining cooking time. So in my case it went in for around an hour. I let it rest for a good 20 minuets. I cannot tell you how good the lamb was. The butter and the initial 20 minuets cooking time at a high temperature encouraged the fat on top of the meat to really crisp up. The anchovies disappeared, leaving a subtle and delicate salty flavour. The lamb was medium rare and was easy on the palette. Nothing’s worse then tough lamb that requires more energy to chew then gained when digested. A nicely cooked piece of meat deserves equally nice trimmings; honey mustard roasted carrots, parsnips; sweet red onions; crunchy trimmed beans; and my brother’s amazing roasted potatoes. From the meat came lovely juices to make a red wine jus. To help everything along was of course some mint sauce. Delightful. What more is there to say? TRY IT!!! Forget about anchovies on your dominos pizza, put them in your lamb. Happy eatings guys : )