Finally, we made it to the end of a month long celebration of ‘Christmas in July’. I survived hosting three Christmas dinners and supplying a trio of bruschetta for 8 people at another.
I think this last Christmas feast was my favourite and not only because it was the easiest - throw a piece lamb into the oven for six hours and serve with some roasted potatoes. Or the smell of slow cooking lamb that permeated the house Sunday morning. It was serving it all up on a large platter and watching everyone get stuck into it and really enjoy it.
Originally I thought I’d do a 10hr slow cooked lamb, but running the numbers, I realised that I would have to get out of bed at 3am and start cooking. Yeah, this black duck is also renovating and sleep is currently topping the list of priorities. So I opted for 6 hour cooked lamb and did all the prep the day before. You will probably have to ask your butcher for the lamb shoulder as it's difficult to find in supermarkets. The size you need will depend on how many people you want to feed.
Serving roast potatoes cooked in duck fat was a given and the rocket and fennel salad (just tossed with a little olive oil and salt) helped cut through the richness of the meat.
You will need to start this recipe the day before.
Recipe 6 hour Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder
1 lamb shoulder
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 lemons, juiced
50ml Ouzo (Optional)
3 bay leaves, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
In a bowl mix the crushed garlic, 125ml olive oil, lemon juice, Ouzo – optional, bay leaves and the oregano (Greek if you have some). Mix to combine and pour over the lamb. Place in a non reactive bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the lamb from the fridge 1 hr before roasting.
Preheat oven to 160°C.
Place the lamb into a large roasting dish. Add a little salt and pepper. Pour about 2 centimetres of water to the dish.
Cook in the oven for 3 hours, making sure you baste the lamb every hour with its juices. Cover the dish with foil and continue to bake for a further 3 hours.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.
To serve, squeeze a little lemon juice and a good slug of olive oil over the top and spoon some tzatziki on the side.
You can cheat and buy a good quality tzatziki to accompany the lamb, but I prefer to make my own. The shop bought stuff is never thick enough or creamier enough for my liking. It’s best if you make this the day before to let the flavours fully develop. There are plenty of instructional videos and web pages out there that can show you how to strain the yoghurt.
Recipe Homemade Tzatziki
500gm yoghurt, strained
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 telegraph cucumber, seeded and grated
Juice from ½ a lemon
1 tsp fresh dill
In a bowl, using a spoon, combine all the ingredients until well mixed. Refrigerate until needed.