I once saw Nigella Lawson prepare this lamb in one of her shows and as usual was swept away by the beautiful simplicity and openness with which she makes and presents her food. There seem to be a few Nigella haters out there but I have nothing but respect for a woman with no training to make cooking sexy, inviting and easy for more than one generation of men and women. Besides how could I hate someone whose criticisms include: “flirtatious”; whose programmes include “scenes of gluttony” and who can “make dinner seem like the prelude to an orgy”. Her huge success in the UK and abroad can be measured not only in her book and cookery line sales but the affect on sales of products she uses in her shows; goose fat sales doubling in supermarkets after she named it as an essential Christmas ingredient.
This lamb shoulder became an instant hit with my family and everyone that has eaten it. A maximum of 10 minutes preparation and then it can be left to its own devices in the oven overnight to produce meat that happily falls off the bone to form a delectable mound of tender shreds ready to be plated.
I paired it with what I can only describe as a ‘high street’ Baba Ganoush. Not far off the real thing, retaining a strong smoky aubergine flavour but toned down with a little yoghurt for the masses. For me this smoky and slightly spicy dip goes perfectly with this the rich lamb and then is cut through with fresh bursts of pomegranate and mint leaves. What better way to eat it than wrapped up in a big flatbread I thought? And so I did; this is my kind of kebab.
Of course this lamb could be served on a large platter as an alternative Summer Sunday Lunch, served with some grilled peppers and tomatoes etc or mixed through with other herbs and fruits in season.
Shredded Lamb Shoulder and Burnt Aubergine Kebabs
recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s found here
For the lamb:
2 1/2kg lamb shoulder (bone in)
1 teaspoon ras-al-hanout
1 star anise
4 shallots halved, not peeled
8 cloves garlic
1 carrot, peeled
good quality sea salt
500ml boiling water
small handful of mint
seeds of one pomegranate
oven @ 120 C
Put the water to boil. Heat a little oil in a deep roasting tin on the hob until smoking and brown the lamb on the fat side. Set aside whilst quickly adding the spices, the vegetables and a good pinch of salt to the oil, frying for 2-3 minutes.
Pour in the boiling water, this will de-glaze the pan and carefully replace the lamb fat (skin) side up this time amongst the water and vegetables. Let the water come to a simmer before turning off gas.
Tent (seal) the roasting tin well with foil and then place in the heated oven.
Now you can leave it whilst you sleep and it will be ready to eat at lunch the next day. Alternatively start in the morning (early – mid morning) and it will be ready for dinner. At this temperature and in liquid the meat won’t dry out and will be perfect after around 10 hours, give or take a few.
For a quicker cooking time, have the oven at 170C and it will be done in 5 hours.
An hour before eating, remove from the tin and leave to rest for one hour. By then you will be able to flake off the meat with a couple of forks.
Finely chop the mint and mix with the shredded lamb and pomegranate seeds. Give another good sprinkle of sea salt and serve.
*at room temperature the fat will congeal so keep warm until needed. Any leftovers can be re-heated thus melting the congealed fat.
for the Baba Ganoush:
2 large aubergines (eggplants)
3 tablespoons tahini paste
100g greek yoghurt
juice of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, peeled, de-germed and v.finely chopped or crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
salt to taste
Place the whole aubergines directly onto the flame of a gas stove or the coals of a BBQ, turning every so often until blackened and blistered all over. This will impart the smoky flavour.
Leave to cool, covered. Then rinse under a cold tap to remove the skins and leave the flesh to drain a couple of minutes in a colander or sieve, applying a little pressure with a spoon.
Then shred the flesh, it should come apart easily in natural segments. If there are many seeds, try to discard them. Then in a large bowl mix well with the other ingredients, adjusting to personal preference. Serve.