As is my custom, I went vegetarian for Lent this year. Then, at the end of Lent, Simply Free Range had this special on a lamb roast pack and I got a little bit overexcited and also apparently failed to read just how many joints of meat I was actually getting in this pack, and since then we have been positively swimming in lamb roasts of various kinds (actually, after the first week of this lamb-fest, during which I invited over just about everyone I could think of to share in the lamb-ish bounty, I did a freezer clean-out, and moved the rest of the joints to the fridge, where they now sit. Waiting…). Which is a bit bad, when you consider that Andrew doesn’t really like roast lamb. Oops.
Still, he liked this one, and so did I, not least because it was magnificently easy and not at all roast like. Essentially, you put your lamb in the slow cooker before work, with a few herbs and lemon and quite a bit of garlic to help it along, and leave it there all day. (Don’t forget to switch the cooker on before you go…) When you come home, you take out the lamb and it just falls apart. I quite literally served it on a big dish and gave everyone forks – no carving required, everyone could just pull off what they needed. Amazing. The garlic, meanwhile, has basically melted, and can be spread all over the lamb like a sauce. It’s pretty much an advertisement for what a slow cooker can do for you. Completely fabulous.
Your Shopping list:
1 boned and rolled lamb shoulder
2 potatoes (optional)
4 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of three lemons
1/2 cup white wine
1 bulb garlic
Now what will you do with it?
Trim your lamb to get rid of the really big bits of fat on the outside (some fat is fine, and indeed will help keep things tender, but I like to get rid of the big thick chunky bits).
Slice your onions and optional potatoes, and put them in the bottom of a slow cooker. They are kind of being scaffolding, but edible scaffolding. Place the rosemary and bay leaves on top, and sprinkle with the oregano and a little salt and pepper. Drizzle with half the olive oil.
Peel all the garlic cloves. This is a pain. What I do is get a big knife and squish them, and then chop off the bottom bit. At this point, the garlic skins mostly cry uncle and come off really easily. Press the garlic cloves into the seam where the lamb is rolled together. If you can’t get all the garlic cloves in there, scatter a few more over the top, but if one is determined, one generally can manage.
Pour the lemon juice and white wine over the lamb, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper. I used the French Lavender Salt that I am addicted to, and it certainly didn’t make things worse…
Close the slow cooker, and set to low for 8 1/2 – 9 1/2 hours. I don’t think you can overcook this, so if you will be out of the house longer, just set it to cook longer, and enjoy. If you are at home during the day, check after four hours to make sure the liquid is still there. It probably will be there in volume, but it’s reassuring to know, don’t you think?
Once the lamb is done, smoosh the garlic all over it, to make it even more awesome. Serve, with a big fork for people to use to grab their share of lamb – you will not need to carve this, and probably won’t be able to, it really is just about melting.
I like to serve this with roast potatoes, mostly because I like to serve everything with roast potatoes. I also serve it with cannelini beans that I have stewed with tomatoes and dill and oregano, and with ratatouille, because once you’ve started on this course of drastic overcatering, you might as well keep going. Bread is also nice for the juices.
This meal is obviously not even slightly vegetarian. It is, however, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, low GI, nut-free, and low fructose, so long as you use the onions as a stock ingredient rather than eating them.
You could play around with flavours in a variety of ways – tomatoes would be nice in here, and you could tilt it in a more Italian direction with some red wine and basil. One thing that I might try next time would be to chop the two onions finely and sauté them in olive oil, then add a cup of dried cannelini beans and a tin of tomatoes to the slow cooker as your base, along with the oregano, bay leaves, rosemary and maybe some dill. Put the lamb on top, add all your other ingredients plus an extra cup of water, and set to cook for nine hours – your beans will be done when the lamb is (yes, even without soaking). This would make it more of a one-pot meal, too.