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Posts Tagged ‘poached lamb’

Here’s how the conversation started on Friday afternoon…

“MJ, I’m boiling a leg of lamb tonight, would you like to come over? Ummm…I should mention that I have no idea how it’s going to work out, but since you’re family, I’m sure you won’t mind if it’s a disaster and we have to order Thai takeaway…”

Pete’s cousin later recounted that the first thing that came to her mind was..“Boiling lamb? For goodness sake, just don’t!”

This recipe, inspired by an episode of Rick Stein’s Food Heroes of Britain, is an absolute winner and quite different to anything I’ve ever cooked  or eaten before.

In Australia, a leg of lamb is almost always baked or, in recent years, butterflied and barbequed.  But it wasn’t something I grew up eating at all – being Chinese, the only thing my mum ever did with her oven was use it as a cupboard to store plates in.  For years, I never understood why people actually needed to clean their ovens…

Anyway, this recipe is apparently not uncommon in the UK, and it’s a really delicious way to cook lamb.  The meat is tender and moist, and you have the added bonus of some wonderful brown stock to stash in the freezer at the end of the cooking process.  It’s traditionally made with mutton, but that’s hard to source from our local butcher.  The quantities are pretty flexible, as is often the case with this style of cooking.

When I went to prepare the dish, I found that the lamb didn’t fit into the pot, so I drove back to the butcher to ask him to cut the shank off for me.  He laughed and showed me a joint half-way up the leg, then cut through it with his large knife and bent the shank over.  If you’re buying a leg of lamb or mutton for this purpose, you might want to ask your butcher to nick that joint for you – it’ll make it much easier to manoeuvre the big bone into the pot.

  • 1 large leg of lamb (or leg of mutton) – mine was about 2.7kg
  • lots of carrots and onions, peeled and chopped
  • peppercorns
  • sprig of fresh or good pinch of dried rosemary
  • generous amount of salt to season
  • butter and/or olive oil
  • ¼ cup plain flour
  • 2 heaped teaspoons capers

1. Sit the lamb in a large cast iron cooking pot (I used a 30cm Le Creuset dutch oven) and cover it with the carrots, onions, and peppercorns.  Place the sprig of rosemary on top, or scatter with the dried rosemary.  Scatter over the salt, then add enough water to just barely cover the meat.

2. Cover with the lid and cook on the hob over a medium heat until just boiling, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 2 – 3 hours, depending on the size of your lamb and how you prefer your meat  to be cooked.  Carefully turn the joint over about half way through the cooking time, and top up with a little extra water if needed.  Taste the stock for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

I used a probe thermometer to check the meat – 65C for medium or 80C for well done – and removed it from the pot once the internal temperature exceeded 70C.  It continued to cook further as it rested.

3. With a ladle, scoop out some of the stock and pass it through a sieve into a separate bowl. Melt some butter and olive oil in a small saucepan, then add the plain flour and cook it through, but don’t allow the roux to brown.  Add the strained stock and heat gently until thickened, then stir in the capers.  Plate up the sliced meat with some of the cooking vegetables and the caper sauce.  We served the dish with King Edward potato wedges (just to keep it all very British!).

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