Northern Chinese Slow Roasted Lamb

Literally nothing about the title of this dish could make me question it. This was made on a chilly Sunday afternoon after a long walk around Carsington Water. I’m now back from our epic adventure and although it took me a few days, I eventually kicked the jet lag and managed to get up at a normal time. Well done, me.

This was a recipe from The Times that I just couldn’t resist having a go at. It’s super easy, makes the entire house smell delicious and absolutely perfect for these cold autumn evenings that have hit me like a punch in the stomach (couldn’t you have waited more than a week after I landed to put the clocks back, REALLY BRITAIN!?!?)

Don’t be put off by the mass of ingredients – if you’re a keen cook then you should have most of them hanging around at the back of the cupboard anyway.* All you do is whack spices in a bowl, slop them all over your lamb and whack it in the oven before an afternoon of films/a nice walk/going to the pub/sleeping.

*except Szechuan Pepper, what the hell even is that?

You will need:

3 tsp szechuan peppercorns (don’t panic, it’s sold in most supermarkets)

3 tsp cumin seeds

1 ½ tsp fennel seeds

½ tsp ground tumeric

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp chilli flakes

3 garlic cloves

1 tbsp malt vinegar

3 tsp salt

1 ½ tsp sugar

1 onion

1 pepper

2 – 2 ½ kg lamb shoulder*

*the recipe said 1 – 2 kg but there’s a lotta lamb between 1 and 2 kilos! I recommend more like 2 ½ kg for the amount of spice mix however you could half the spice mix and have less lamb.

What to do:

Turn your oven on to 160C / gas mark 2-3.

In a frying pan over a low, low (lower than that) heat, toast your peppercorns, cumin seeds and fennel seeds, swirling them around regularly so that they don’t burn. You’ll know when they’re toasted because it will smell FIIIIIIIT!

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^ isn’ that a pretty colour!?

Chuck the toasted spices into a pestle & mortar and coarsely grind it up. In a separate bowl add the rest of your spices. Mash up your garlic with the salt (releases the flavours better according to Jamie O) and mix everything up except the onion, pepper and lamb in the bowl.

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Chop your onion and pepper – not too small or it’ll just disintegrate into nothingness – chuck them in a roasting tin and place your lamb on top.

Score the lamb a few times, going quite deep.

Using hand (no spoons you wimp) smear your delicious, fragrant spice mixture over the lamb and get right into where you’ve scored.

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Phew! Wasn’t that hard work? Wrap your lamb nice and snug in some tin foil and whack it in the oven for 3 hours (enough time for a few Sunday afternoon pints and/or Netflix sesh with your mates). When those 3 hours are up take the tin foil off and then pop it back in for another 1 – 1 ½ hours, until it’s falling off the bone.

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^ peeeerfect lamb

Serve with wild rice, veggies and a kick ass red wine that will stand up to the spice.

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Happy Sunday!

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