ARGUABLY Australia Day is one of the most important days on my calendar. A day for sharing the Aussie spirit of mateship and stories from back home.
This year the kitchen at my house will be a hive of activity, as I will be cooking my slow roasted shoulder of lamb – with all the trimmings!
The aroma’s drifting out of the kitchen will be jammed packed with rosemary and garlic and are sure to get the taste buds going (and the neighbours jealous).
It has been hard for us Aussies to pinpoint a particular cuisine or national dish to call our own. We are a nation that prides itself on quality beef, lamb, seafood and some of the freshest fruit on the planet. What we have done is adopt the influences from the great people who made Australia home and now we turn out some of the best cuisine in the world; light fresh and packed full of flavor. Europe has given us some great dishes and Asia has introduced us to the exotic spices and curries that we crave.
Aussie chefs are heading up some of the best kitchens in the UK, States and Asia. They are using their skills and adding the touches of ethnic influences from back home to create first class dishes and trends that blow customers away.
Still, when we gather to celebrate Australia Day, we turn to the old favorite leg of lamb to celebrate being born under the Southern Cross. (Remember those awesome lamb ads on TV with Naomi Watts turning down dinner with Tom Cruise?)
The shoulder of lamb is a great cut to cook. Having the bone gives us heaps of flavors. The shoulder must include the fore shank. Best to ask the butcher to show you a few examples and select one that will feed the number of people you will be cooking for. We are looking for a generous covering of fat to keep the meat moist during cooking and give the shoulder its flavour.
Buy the best quality sea salt available and crank up the pepper mill to season the lamb. Grab a few bulbs of fresh garlic and fresh rosemary sprigs. Don’t use dried herbs, during the roasting process the dried herbs burn and will leave a bitter taste to the lamb.
Keeping it nice and simple, here is my slow roasted shoulder of lamb for you to enjoy (as Sam Kekovich says — “you know it makes sense!”). Happy cooking and happy Australia Day!
What you need:
1 x 2.5 kg lamb shoulder
Good quality olive oil
Sea salt and pepper mill
2 x sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 x cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of plain flour
Cup of good quality of dark chicken stock — from supermarkets
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
Handful of fresh mint
What to do:
Turn the oven on to 250 degrees, sounds hot but that’s what we want for the first 20 minutes of cooking.
Using a sharp knife, slash the lamb to allow the flavours of the herbs to get right into the flesh.
Rub the shoulder with the olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Lay the rosemary over the meat. Slice the garlic and pick the flesh with a sharp knife and insert the garlic to prevent it burning.
Place on a high-sided tray and whack it in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove and cover the tray with tin foil. Turn the heat down to 160 degrees and cook for three – four hours. The lamb is ready when using a fork the meat easily comes away from the bone.
Remove the lamb from the tray and place covered on the chopping board to rest. Place the tray on the burner and add the stock, scraping all the goodness from the tray. Allow the stock to reduce and add the flour and vinegar. Keep stirring until it thickens. Remove and chuck in the mint and pour into a gravy jug.
To serve, just use two forks to lift the meat from the bone and top the plates with roasted potatoes, greens and lashings of mint gravy.