I should have published this post a week ago in time for anyone searching for lamb recipes for Easter Sunday lunch but if you’re anything like my family then you probably eat lamb pretty regularly and not just at Easter. Our fondness for lamb has me constantly on the look out for new recipes, especially easy ones that involve slow braising. I particularly enjoy shoulder and leg of lamb slow cooked and falling from the bone, for me, pink lamb is best saved for racks and cutlets. Not only does slow braising provide wonderful flavour but it is extremely forgiving as far as timing is concerned which makes it wonderful for entertaining. This recipe, which is Egyptian in origin, is not only one of the simplest I’ve come across but also the most unusual. No one would guess that the intensely flavourful sauce is made from a combination of finely grated carrots and onions. The long cooking times mean the carrots and onions release their sugars and caramelise forming a wonderful crust around and lamb and a tasty complex sauce. I served this with Rick Stein’s Turkish baked pumpkin and cous cous but it would go just as well with more traditional roast accompaniments.
Ingredients – Serves 4-6 Adapted from Matters of the Belly Blog
One bone-in 2kg leg of lamb – if using a larger leg of lamb increase the ingredients accordingly but the cooking time will be roughly the same.
2 large onions, finely grated
2 large carrots, finely grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoon mixed allspice
1 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes – use less if you want milder heat or leave it out altogether
1 ½ teaspoon salt
Place the lamb in a large dish and add all the other ingredients, massaging and rubbing them well all over the lamb leg. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge overnight. This step is crucial. The next day, preheat the oven to 160C (or 150C fan forced). Remove the lamb from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Place the lamb in a roasting tin or a large oven proof dish with a lid, I used a Le Creuset dutch oven. If you are using a roasting pan make sure it is one that fits the lamb leg snuggly. Place it into the oven and cook for 3 hours, covered (if you are using foil make sure that it is a double layer and very tightly sealed so as little steam as possible escapes.)
After 3 hours, remove the lid or the foil, and roast for another 2-3 hours. (I found 2½ hours was enough for a 2kg leg of lamb). During this part of cooking, you will need to check on the lamb every half hour or so. Using a large spoon, scoop up some of the sauce over the lamb to baste it a couple of times. If the pan is getting too dry, add some hot water, about a half a cup at a time. You will notice the crust of the lamb will be getting darker and darker; this is good! Just make sure there is enough liquid in the pan so that nothing burns. The lamb is ready when it becomes fork-tender, and you can easily shred it off the bone. Take the lamb out of the oven, and using a spoon, skim as much fat as possible off the gravy. Serve with cous cous, rice, or roast potatoes.