Friday, 25 April 2008

Spring Into Summer

As the days lengthen and we head into summer the winter love affair with comforting casseroles and stews goes into decline. A little too early for barbecues and salad in colder climates, this bridges the gap beautifully and as lamb is in season it is perfect. Pomegranates are available in supermarkets most of the year now so that should not be a problem. Lemon Zest and juice maybe used if it is. It tastes every bit as nice although it may not look just as pretty. I like to serve this with boiled new potatoes. The recipe comes from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson

Warm Shredded Lamb Salad With Mint and Pomegranates

1 shoulder of lamb (approx 2.5 kilograms)
4 shallots halved but not peeled
6 cloves garlic left whole
1 carrot peeled and halved
malden salt
500ml boiling water
small handful freshly chopped mint
1 pomegranate

1.Preheat the oven to 140C/ gas mark 1.

2.On the hob, brown the lamb, fat side down, in a large roasting tin. Remove when nicely browned in the middle (you won't get much more than this) and set aside while you fry the vegetables briefly. Just tip them into the pan - you won't need to add any more fat - and cook them, sprinkled with salt, gently for a couple of minutes. Pour the water over and then replace the lamb, this time fat side up. Let the liquid in the pan come to a bubble, then tent with foil and put in the preheated oven.

3.Now just leave it there while you sleep. I find that if I put the lamb in before I go to bed, it's perfect by lunchtime the next day. But the point is, at this temperature, nothing's going to go wrong with the lamb if you cook it for a little less or a little more.

4.If you want to cook the lamb the day you're going to eat it, heat the oven to 170C/ gas mark 3 and give it 5 hours or so. The point is to find a way of cooking that suits you.

5.About an hour before you want to eat, remove the lamb from the tin to a large plate or carving board; not that it needs carving: the deal here is that it's unfashionably overcooked, falling to tender shreds at the touch of a fork. This is the best way to deal with shoulder of lamb: it's cheaper than leg, and the flavour is deeper, better, truer, but even good carvers, which I most definitely am not, can get unstuck trying to slice it.

6.To finish the lamb salad, simply pull it to pieces with a couple forks on a large plate. Sprinkle with more Malden salt and some freshly chopped mint, then cut the pomegranate in half and dot with the seeds from one of the halves. This is easily done; there's a simple trick, which means you never have to think of winkling out the jewelled pips with a safety pin ever again. Simply hold the pomegranate half above the plate, take a wooden spoon and start bashing the curved skin side with it. Nothing will happen for a few seconds, but have faith. In a short while the red glassy, juicy beads will start raining down.

7.Take the other half and squeeze the preposterously pink juices over the warm shredded meat. Take to the table and serve.

8.What I do with the leftovers is warm a pitta bread in the microwave, and then spread it with a greedy dollop of hummous, then take the chill off the fridged lamb in the microwave too (and see notes on cold fat, above) and stuff the already gooey pitta with it. Add freshly chopped mint, black pepper and whatever else you like; raw, finely chopped red onion goes dangerously well.


Rosie said...

Truly a stunning dish Brenda!!

I can picture Nigella now making this dish from watching here programme.. I like the way Nigella bashes all those pomegranate seeds out with a wooden spoon :)

Rosie x

Anonymous said...

Stunning Brenda. Gorgeous photo too, I want to dive right in and begin eating.

Maria said...

What a gorgeous pic!!

I've never made this dish from NB but it looks like a winner.


vonsachsen said...

Mmm, I´ve had my eyes on this for quite a long time now but somehow never really made it but it looks so good! I have some pomegranate seeds in the freezer so I think I´ll give it a go soon. Thanks for the inspiration:)


Anna said...

Oh my gosh! What a fantastic pic!