Roast dinners were my staple when I was growing up. Every Sunday without fail, that magical smell would waft out of the kitchen, lamb, parsnip, pumpkin, potato, peas, carrots, mint sauce, and lots of gravy. We looked forward to it every week, perhaps the one meal we never got tired of (God knows tuna mornay and macaroni cheese had their day).
So this meal was a bit of change to Mum’s original method for cooking a roast. I found a nice leg of lamb at the butchers, and feeling industrious, decided to bone it out and butterfly it myself. A relatively simple procedure, although it’s just as easy to ask the butcher to do it for you.
Once I’d got the bone out, and scored the outside and butterflied the inside… It was all systems go with herbs and spices. A good slosh of nice olive oil and a solid covering of maldon sea salt and cracked pepper, then push as much rosemary as will fit into every little gap you can find. I also made up a spice mix in my funky new mortar and pestle, it was coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and black peppercorns.
So a coating of the spice mixture went over the seasoned lamb, which was then thrown into a roasting dish and plied with libations of a spicy shiraz I happened to have somehow forgotten to finish.
The flavours were already building, and so into the oven it went to cook on a medium low heat (about 150 C) for around 3 hours or so. A covering of aluminium foil (or aluminum of you’re North American, or tin if you’re from NZ), to keep the heat in and stop it from drying out too quickly, and off to get the veges ready.
Dan and Mabes turned up soon enough, with more lovely Shiraz procured the day before from Sandalford in the Swan Valley, and so we cracked the bottle while we waited for the rest of the vegetables to cook.
I had some really nice Kestrel potatoes that are perfect for roasting. I also had some japanese pumpkin and a nice bulb of fennel.
(I’ve just realised I’m using perhaps the worst adjectives in history here. Why do I keep refering to everything as ‘nice’ ? Hrmm, like you need justification that I haven’t been using rancid vegetables or something… anyway)
So sliced it all up into roastable chunks, onto a roasting dish, did the usual mantra of adding olive oil, salt, pepper, spices, and then into the oven for as long as it takes to get them nice and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside (Actually I cheated and preboiled the potatoes a bit).
The rest was simply waiting and watching and smelling. A glass or two of Shiraz all round and an account of how much effort was involved in getting it, and it was time to dish up.
The lamb was amazing. Lamb is perhaps one of the most luscious comestibles I can think of, when prepared just right. Encrusted with herbs and spices, wallowing in a rich red wine marinade… waiting to soak up every precious little bit of flavour…
The meat was done to a perfect medium… soft delicate and moist. I took the lamb out of the pan and sliced it up, then putting the roasting dish back on the stove top, adding a little cornflour and thickened up the red wine and pan juices to make a delicious gravy.
I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking, but in a word… delicious. A lovely relaxing night with close friends, great wine, and great food.