This morning I was woken by a shimmer of morning light reaching out and slapping me in the face… right between the eyes. Up until that very moment, morning light had remained hidden by Winter’s shadow, but not this morning as Spring slowly begins to win the fight whilst Winter slowly takes a back seat. I drag myself out of bed towards the coffee machine, the air is filled with a familiar warmth, a quick glance outside and the grass seems to have grown 10 foot over night and needs a mow. Ah how I haven’t missed mowing the lawn every single weekend…
Spring marks the beginning of a wonderful growing season, beautiful mornings, blooming flowers and how could I forget the dreaded Hayfever. All that aside, my favourite part of spring is the lamb… oh and the veggies…. and beautiful mornings… hell all of the above… except of course that Hayfever… it fills my Facebook wall with unnecessary posts about people being snotty… but I’m willing to overlook that in order to stuff my face with Spring lamb. You see, lamb without a doubt has to be one of my favourite meats along with pork, beef and of course, chicken… but lamb is right up there on my list and it should be up there on yours.
Like every other meat there are so many ways to cook Lamb, each and every way beautiful in it’s own right. You can pan fry, you can roast, you can braise, you can slow cook you can do what ever the hell you like to it as long as it is delicious. As with life there are guidelines, guidelines that tend to be enforced by ladies and gentleman dressed in blue and have cars with cool blue and red lights that flash and make a lot of noise. Yes that’s right cooking lamb also has guidelines, Granted these guidelines are not enforced by men and women dressed in blue, but rather by your tastebuds and the tastebuds of the people you’re feeding… I’ll stop talking in codes, I’ve provided you with a cheat sheet just below in order to prevent you from eating a disappointing lamb dish ever again…
HANDY HELPFUL TIPS
First and foremost there is are a few very important guidelines to follow.Take your meat out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before you start cooking. You always want your meat to be at room temperature before cooking. Know how much the meat weighs. Season your meat well! I’m not just talking salt and pepper, go out and plant some herbs. Rosemary and thyme are two of Lamb’s favourite ladies, they love hanging out together. Rest your meat! Don’t be tempted to dig in and start stuffing your face, all that work slow cooking will be ruined. Ok let’s continue.
SLOW COOKING – MY FAVOURITE
There are certain cuts of Lamb that bask in the glory of slow cooking. If you are after meat that falls off the bone and warms the inner of your heart valves, then head to your local butcher and buy yourself one of these cuts. I also highly recommend you leave the bone in for slow cooking… in fact, if you order one of these cuts without the bone, there is a high chance the boys and girls in blue will be kicking in your door. Shoulder | Shank | Neck | Forequarter | Leg Now oviously slow cooking is just that, it takes time. Ideally (depending on how big your chunk of meat is) you want to cook it for four hours at 140’c. If you’re impatient and can’t wait quite that long you can bump it up to 160’c and have it ready in about 3 hours… but I suggest patience, my friend. Rest your meat on a bed of garlic, onions and any veggies you need to use up. This will help create an amazing gravy! Add in some liquid (this could be stock, beer, water, wine… pretty much whatever you want). Then cover with some baking paper or aluminium foil and put that bad boy in the oven. That easy.
ROASTING – MY SECOND FAVOURITE
Roasting lamb follows the same basic principles as slow cooking… obviously the main difference being the cooking times and the cut of meats you use. For roasting I’d recommend the following:
Loin | Back Strap | Topside | Rump | Rack | Ribs | Leg | Shoulder
Now again each cut will take a slightly different amount of love. As each oven is very different, I’d strongly suggest you use a meat thermometer to check the ‘doneness’ of your meat. Remember to take it out 10 degress before your desired temperature as it will continue to cook while it rests.
Rare 60’c | Medium rare 65’c | Medium 70’c Well done 75’c
For the loin, back strap, topside, and rump I suggest an oven temperate of 220’c
• for rare cook for 15-20 minutes per 500g
• for medium cook for 20-25 minutes per 500g
• for well done cook for 25-30 minutes per 500g
For the Rack and four Ribs I’d suggest using an oven temperate 200’c
• for rare cook for 20-25 minutes per 500gs
• for medium cook for 30-35 minutes per 500g
• for well done cook for 40-45 minutes per 500g
For the leg and shoulder I’d suggest using an oven temperate 180’c
• for rare cook for 20-25 minutes per 500gs
• for medium cook for 25-30 minutes per 500g
• for well done cook for 30-35 minutes per 500g
Now that you are armed with all the knowledge, I remembered to tell you I expect to be invited for dinner.
5 hrTotal Time
- 2.5kg lamb shoulder, bone in
- 1 lemon
- 1 handful of rosemary sprigs
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- good pinch of salt and pepper
- olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 140'c
- Bring your meat to room temperature
- Slice small slits into the skin of the lamb and fill with rosemary and garlic cloves.
- Massage your meat with a little olive oil then season with salt and pepper.
- Zest the lemon all over the top of the lamb, then squeeze a little juice over as well.
- Add a few lemon slices on top and then place your shoulder (the lambs shoulder) onto the chopped onion, carrot and any left over lemon and garlic.
- Cover with aluminium foil and cook low and slow for 4 hours or until you can pull apart with two forks. Take it out slightly earlier if you want it to hold its shape.