When I saw a whole leg of lamb for just £9.36 in Aldi I was super excited. My grandma has always been a coupon kinda gal and, like her, I love a bargain. Not wanting to make a rash decision, I decided to take it home to consider all of the wonderful possibilities.
I remembered a recipe for slow-cooked Moroccan lamb shoulder with a pomegranate and date glaze, which has stayed with me since I went on a team building day at Angela Gray’s cookery school. Typical of Angela Gray’s style of cooking, it was bursting with flavour and unequivocally delicious.
I did have a niggling worry at the back of my mind about slow-cooking and essentially ‘ruining’ this tender piece of meat. Firstly, Angela Gray’s recipe was for a shoulder of lamb (a much more robust and fattier cut). Secondly, I love my lamb pink and I’ve heard/read several chefs defending the natural flavour of the meat and warning against messing about with it too much. But as it only cost a tenner, I thought, why not experiment?
I didn’t have Angela Gray’s recipe to hand, but I vaguely remembered the ingredients, so decided to hunt around on the internet for something similar. As always, you can rely on Nige (Slater) to deliver. So this recipe is a combination of what I can remember of Angela Gray’s Morrocan lamb shoulder and Nige’s slow roast leg of lamb, with a couple of improvisations, and served with Nige’s chickpea mash.
As usual, my local supermarkets threw a spanner in the works – no date or pomegranate molasses to glaze the meat. So I made them from scratch. The supermarkets in my area are notoriously crap for offering ingredients that are slightly obscure, so you’ll probably have more luck than me, but in any case I have included the recipe for them below.
Cooked for five hours (the recipe is three, but I had to turn the heat down and cook for longer so it was ready in time for my old man to get home), the meat just fell off the bone. It was still beautifully moist and the flavours and spices just permeated through the entire leg. Gorgeous.
Complimented by the aromatic chickpea mash and flat breads, it really was the ultimate alternative Easter roast. Definitely worth it.
My eat of the week
Leg of lamb
- leg of lamb (bone-in)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp cumin seed
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch saffron
- 1/4 tbsp turmeric
- 2 tbsps thyme leaves
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- a thick slice of butter
- 4 tbsps pomegranate molasses (see below ‘how to cook’ for recipe)
- 4 tbsps date molasses (see below ‘how to cook’ for recipe)
- 2 x cans of chickpeas
- 1 small onion
- 3-4 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
How to cook
Heat the oven to 160C. Firstly, make the rub for the meat by pounding the garlic cloves, salt, thyme leaves and spices using a pestle and mortar. Then mix in the olive oil until it forms a thick paste. Next, melt some butter in a pan and pour it into the paste – this will make it runnier.
Put the lamb into a deep-sided casserole dish or pan and rub it all over with the paste, then put in the oven and leave for 35 minutes.
Pour in 250ml of water so it mixes with the oil and juice that will have begun to form at the bottom of the pan. Baste the lamb with the liquid. Continue roasting for a further 2 1/2 hours, basting the meat every half hour.
Pour the date and pomegranate molasses into a bowl and mix together. Once the 2 1/2 hours are up, remove the lamb from the oven and use a spoon to drizzle the sticky mixture over the meat. Return the lamb to the oven for a further half an hour.
Use the last 15 minutes of cooking time to prepare the chickpea mash. Drain the chickpeas and put them into a pan of lightly salted water. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer to warm them up for about 4-5 minutes. Peel and finely slice the onion, then cook in a pan on a moderate heat with the olive oil until the onion softens and colours a little. Drain the water from the chickpeas, then mash them with a potato masher. Mix in the onions, adding a little more olive oil to make the mash a smooth puree. Seasoning with cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.
Finally, remove the lamb from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes or so before carving and serving with the chickpea mash and flat breads.
- 2 pomegranates
- 2 tbsps sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
How to cook
Seed the pomegranates, put them into a food processor and blend into a juice. Sieve the juice to get rid of any bits.
Add the pomegranate juice, along with the lemon juice and sugar, to a pan and put on a medium to high heat. Cook for a few minutes and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the juice has a syrupy consistency. A la fini.
- 1 cup dates
How to cook
Put the dates in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes until they are plump and have absorbed some of the water.
Strain the water and transfer the dates to a food processor and mix until they form a paste.
Next, sieve the paste to get rid of any bits.
And there you have it!