I love good food and I love to cook, often labouring over something until it is just how I want it. Some dishes take 10 minutes, others hours. It depends on the day and my mood, how much time I have and what I fancy. It is a luxury I know, and I am often cooking just for myself. Something that I really enjoy doing and also isn’t it the ultimate in self care? I love to cook for friends too though and don’t do it anywhere near often enough.
I am a social animal and as much as I love to cook I don’t like being trapped in the kitchen when friends come round. At least not until I have one of those massive kitchens that I so desire and then we can all spend the whole night in there. For now, I have my tiny London kitchen, and if people come over to eat, I make a meal that avoids that. I like to make something that more or less cooks itself but that delivers on flavour and impresses. I always serve it family style on a big platter surrounded by vibrant sides. Porchetta, leg of lamb, pork shoulder, pork belly, that kind of thing.
Not always meat, but these are easy choices as they can roast gently and slowly until perfect in the oven or in my Big Green Egg. Joints with enough fat to withstand the long cooking are what you want for a meal like this. On the bone is best. Better still is to roast them overnight so that when you wake up in the morning everything is more or less good to go and all you have to do is come up with some sides to go with it.
Overnight Spiced Roast Shoulder of Lamb
So, overnight roast lamb shoulder it was. A relatively inexpensive cut that goes a long way. I say overnight, really it is an 8 hour dish. You can get this on first thing in the morning to have for your Easter Lunch or Supper. It is very forgiving too so if it goes over you don’t have to stress. I have a recipe in my first book Comfort & Spice for Overnight Roast Lamb Shoulder that is aromatic with cinnamon. This is based on the recipe that I used to serve at my market stall in Covent Garden all those years ago. Sumac lamb shoulder is a favourite too. For this dish, I looked towards China and the many Sichuan meals I have had over the years featuring gorgeous Sichuan cumin lamb.
Cumin is the dominant spice here but underneath that some fennel seeds, which is common in many Sichuan recipes for cumin lamb. Some Korean chilli alongside these, I love it for its gentle heat and fruity quality. Turkish pul biber or Aleppo pepper will work really well too, but really the chilli of your choice depending on how how you want this. I also added some Shaoxing wine, an ingredient that I always have in my kitchen but recently have become particularly obsessed with. In this instance it adds an aromatic depth and adds moisture as the lamb steams cooks in it.
I like to cook this in a lidded casserole that comfortably fits the lamb. If you don’t have a suitable casserole make sure to cover your dish completely with foil. I put in whole bulbs of garlic beside the lamb and some aubergine. I make a purée with these at the end to serve on the side along with a garlicky beetroot purée, some salads and some veg. Perfect and joyful, with lots of wine and good chats on the side.
What are your Easter favourites?
- 1 shoulder of lamb
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds or 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half along their length
- 1 tbsp mild chilli flakes (to taste)
- 150ml shaoshing wine or dry sherry
- Sea salt
- 2 aubergines, top removed, cut in quarters along their length
- 2 whole bulbs garlic
- Oil or butter to grease the pan
- A pan to roast it in like a casserole (there will be lots of fat and juices), with a lid or aluminium foil to cover it with
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