Happy Easter everyone! Hope you all enjoyed the break and the Easter bunny visited you all. Today’s post is on the lunch I hosted for my family on Monday.
I have to admit, I was a little lazier this year than usual. I have done a bit of catering lately (those posts to come!), so I didn’t have the energy to put into planning an entire menu. Instead, I decided I would make the main – a slow cooked shoulder of lamb – and asked my family members to each bring a dish to share; Sister-A was asked to bring an appetizer, Mother-K the sides, and Sister-E the dessert, while Father-T was in charge of the all important wine! While Sister-A may have copped out by bringing store-bought dips and bread, the effort Mother-K and Sister-E went to was amazing, and I thank them immensely.
From the start I wanted to slow-roast a joint of lamb since it is traditionally served on Easter Sunday. Perhaps leaving my dash to the market till 2pm on Saturday was not the smartest idea, as by then my local butcher – as well as all the surrounding ones – had completely sold out of lamb. Luckily I tracked a shoulder down at the last minute, and my Easter plans were back on track.
I marinated the lamb overnight in a few of my favourite seasonings (garlic, cumin, lemon and olive oil), then cooked it in a slow oven (100C) for 5 hours. By then, the lamb was literally falling off the bone – when I went to ‘carve’ it, I had more luck with my hands and a pair of tongs than a knife. It was definitely worth getting up at 7am to put it in the oven.
While it may not have been the prettiest thing after it was cooked, once I’d removed all the bones and fat, it was a sumptuous feast that fed the 7 of us comfortably. Since we’re not huge eaters, however, I have listed it as feeding 6 (especially if you want some leftovers!).
To accompany my lamb I made a chickpea cream, similar to hummus except without the tahini as Bf-B is allergic to sesame. The cream went really well with the Middle-Eastern flavours of the lamb, and acted as a sauce to amalgamate all the flavours.
In addition to the lamb, I did roast some potatoes (what would roast lamb be without potatoes, right?). After the lamb was cooked, I strained the fat off and used it to cook some kipfler potatoes. They were beautifully crispy, with a hint of lamb flavour from the fat.
The first of Mother-K’s sides was carrots in verjuice with pine nuts and goats’ curd, a delicious recipe she found from Andrew McConnell (we’re big Andrew McConnell fans in our family!). She found some purple carrots which she used in addition to regular orange ones, but feel free to just use orange if that’s all you can find – the taste is the same.
The other side dish Mother-K made was brocollini in an anchovy vinaigrette, a recipe I found in this month’s Gourmet Traveller. While the original recipe called for sprouting brocolli, brocollini was a little easier to find in store. The saltiness of the anchovies go really well with the lamb, acting more like a seasoning than being ‘fishy’.
The entire meal went beautifully together. The lamb is really easy and very impressive looking with minimal effort. Once you’ve cooked the lamb, wrap it in foil and a towel to keep warm and crank up the oven to cook the potatoes. The chickpea cream is also nice alternative to gravy and can be cooked well in advance, making the whole ordeal a lot easier on the day.
Sister-E, always a fantastic sweets chef, left it as a surprise for what she was concocting for dessert. It wasn’t until I saw the fully-assembled creation that I found out what it was: a lemon meringue cake layered with sponge, meringue, lemon curd and cream.
While it may look like an intimidating dessert, when I read her recipe (from Nigella Lawson), it looked surprisingly achievable. The combination of cake and meringue is amazing – you really must try this one!
I was super glad I decided to share the task of cooking this year. While it required a little forethought and prep beforehand, once the lamb was in the oven and the potatoes were peeled and par boiled, I found myself pottering around the kitchen looking for things to do. I really must share the workload more often!!
5-HOUR ROAST LAMB
W/ CHICKPEA CREAM
3 kg lamb shoulder
1 tbsp ground cumin
zest of 1 lemon
5 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tins chickpeas, rinsed and drained
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
200ml olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 tsp salt
sumac to serve
- In a bowl, combine cumin, lemon zest, garlic, olive oil and salt.
- Lightly score the fat on the lamb down to the meat. Rub the marinade into the cuts and over the meat and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 120C (fan forced, 140C regular). Remove the meat from the fridge an hour before cooking.
- Place lamb on a baking tray, fat side up, and cook for 5 hours until meat is falling from the bone. Remove from oven. Drain and reserve fat for potatoes (recipe below). Allow lamb to rest for 1 hour before carving, wrapped in aluminum foil and a towel to keep warm. Remove meat from bones and discard fat before serving.
- FOR CHICKPEA CREAM: In a food processor, process chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, water and salt until very smooth. Check seasoning. To serve, place in a serving bowl, drizzle over some extra olive oil and sprinkle with sumac.
COOKED IN LAMB FAT
2kg kipfler potatoes, peeled and cut in half lengthways
6 tbsp lamb fat (collected from the recipe above)
salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Place potatoes in boiling, salted water and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Remove and drain well. Leave to stand for 5 minutes in the colander so that the water evaporates.
- Place lamb fat onto baking tray and place in the oven until melted, about 2-3 minutes. You may need to spread the potatoes between two trays if the trays are small – you want the potatoes spread in a thin layer, not overlapping, so they go crispy. If this is the case, divide the fat and potatoes evenly between the two trays.
- Remove tray from oven, and carefully toss the potatoes in the fat. Season well with salt and pepper and bake in a hot oven until very crispy, about 1 hour. Sprinkle with a little more salt before serving.
CARROTS IN VERJUICE
W/ GOATS CHEESE & PINE NUTS
1/4 cup (35g) dried currants
1/3 cup (80 ml) verjuice
1 bunch baby (dutch) carrots, green tops trimmed, cleaned
1 bunch baby purple carrots, green tops trimmed, cleaned
1/4 cup (40g) pine nuts
100 g unsalted butter, chopped
1/2 cup (100g) fresh goat’s curd
1/4 cup (3 tablespoons) chopped flat-leaf parsley
extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
- Combine currants and verjuice in a bowl and leave to hydrate, about an hour.
- Cook carrots in boiling salted water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and leave to cool slightly. Using a Chux, scrub the skins from the carrots while still warm. Halve lengthways.
- Drain the currants, reserving the verjuice.
- In a dry pan, roast the pine nuts until just golden. Remove and set aside.
- Add the butter to the pan and allow to melt. Add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes until the butter has begun to brown. Add the reserved verjuice and cook until syrupy.
- Transfer carrots to a serving tray, scatter with currants and pine nuts, crumble over goats curd, and sprinkle over parsley. Drizzle over a little olive oil before serving.
BROCOLLINI W/ ANCHOVY VINAIGRETTE
45g tin anchovies in oil
1 tbsp capers
2 golden shallots
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
140ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
- For vinaigrette, drain the anchovies and reserve the oil. Finely chop the anchovies, capers and shallots, and mix in a small bowl with the garlic. Whisk in the oil from the anchovies, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Stir through the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set vinaigrette aside while you cook the brocollini.
- Cook the brocollini in boiling, salted water for a few minutes until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Drain well and toss with vinaigrette before serving.
LEMON MERINGUE CAKE
4 eggs, separated
300g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened
zest of 1 lemon
4 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp milk
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
150 ml double cream, plus extra to serve
150g lemon curd
- Preheat oven to 200C. Line 2 x 21cm cake tins with baking paper.
- In a food processor, mix the egg yolks, 100g of the caster sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest, juice and milk and process until just combined.
- Sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder and bicarb in a bowl. Add to the wet ingredients and stir together until just combined.
- Divide the mixture between the two cake tins – don’t stress if you don’t think you have enough, you only want two thin layers of cake.
- Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form. Slowly whisk in the remaining 200g of sugar. Divide the meringue between the two cake tins and spread evenly over the cake batter.
- Put the tins into the oven for 20-25 minutes until cake is cooked through (test with a skewer). Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool cool completely in the tins.
- Whisk the double cream until thick but not stiff and set aside.
- Once cool, unmould the first cake and place on a serving tray, meringue side down. Spread with the lemon curd and then the cream.
- Unmould the second cake, and place on top, meringue side up. Serve with extra cream