As you well know from a previous post, I do love a bit of lamb. I've had my eye on this recipe (one of Nigella's) for some time. In fact, it's been staring at me from my recipe book holder in the kitchen for some time now. I usually cook from my own imagination, so recipes that are waiting to be tested out tend to sit here, sometimes for longer than I'd like!
This one caught my attention as I just love Moroccan flavours, and Nigella recommends that it's eaten with homemade Moutabal, a slow roasted, smoky, garlicky aubergine (pretty much my idea of heaven).
To get the very best out of the flavours in this dish, the better you leave the lamb to marinade in the spices the better. I made this the night before to make sure it was packed full of flavour. (I'm getting hungry just typing this...)
To make this, you will need:
1 leg of lamb (approx 2.5kg)
1-2 tablespoons of ras-el-hanout
juice of 2 lemons
6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
First, you need to make sure all the flavours are able to penetrate the meat, so make incisions all over the leg of the lamb. In a mixing bowl, add the ras-el-hanout, lemon juice, oil, garlic and coriander. Stir together to allow the flavours to infuse, then using your fingers, start pushing the mixture into all the holes and rub the remaining aromatic paste over the whole of the leg. Pop the leg into a freezer bag, pouring in any leftover marinade and then tie knot in the top, making sure you've squeezed out all the air, and put it into the fridge for however long you are marinating it for.
It doesn't look too glamorous, but don't be deceived by it's look!
The next part of the dish to get started on is the Moutabal. This can be made in advanced, but if you do, hold off on the garlic and this just before serving.
Nigella suggests this serves 8, but two of us managed to polish this off no problem. So, let's say for two, you'll need:
4 tablespoons of tahini
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Pre heat your oven to 210 degrees, prick your aubergines and pop them in for about an hour, until the skin has blackened and the flesh is soft.
Take them out and put aside until they are cool enough to handle. Once they are cool, cut them open to reveal the gorgeous, pulpy flesh inside, which you can scoop out into a sieve and leave to drain for 15 minutes or so.
Taste it to make sure the seasoning is right, but try not to eat it all at this point.
Our next bit of sauce on the side to go with the lamb is the Cacik, the Turkish version of Tzatik, a cucumber salad with LOTS of garlic (this really isn't a first date dish), and cooling mint and yoghurt.
You will need:
500g Greek Yoghurt
Leaves from bunch of fresh mint
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed or microplaned
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
First, you'll need to peel and dice the cucumber and stir into the yoghurt in a mixing bowl.
Then mix in most of the fresh mint (save some to scatter on at the end), the garlic.
Tip the lot into a serving dish, sprinkle over the remaining mint and drizzle with olive oil. And that's it, you're done!
I wouldn't make this one too far in advance and the flavours are best at their freshest. Particularly that pesky garlic.
With the Moutabal and the Cacik now ready to go, I'd say it was time to get the lamb out of it's bag and into the oven! Make sure you squeeze every last drop of the marinade out of the bag and onto the meat.
Isn't it looking better? Well I can also confirm that it was smelling amazing too.
Roast the beauty at 200 degrees C for about an hour and a half, and by then it will be aromatically blackened on the outside and deliciously tender and pink inside. Leave it to rest for at least 15 minutes - I served this with fluffy rice with lots of chopped mint and parsley, and green beams, so you can be getting on with this or any other accompanying dishes you choose to serve in the mean time.
Once well rested, cut into slices...
Serve up with your lovingly homemade Moutabal and Cacik, some toasted pita, sprinked with ground cumin. Oh, and a glass of red wine goes rather well too.