Middle Eastern Lamb Feast

People frequently ask me for recipes to cook their familiar favourites in a new and exciting ways. Something different to make the usual suspects a little bit special. Here, I have one solution to pep up your Sunday Roast.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are very few things in life as comforting and delicious, as an old-school lamb roast, with all the trimmings: roast potatoes, and any vegetable slathered in super cheesy, cheese sauce…. heaven!

Today, however, we are doing a little twist, by using some delicious middle eastern flavours and accompaniments. One only needs a quick look at food from countries like Lebanon, Turkey, etc, to see that lamb is synonymous with their cuisine.

The best part is that you can easily make this impressive feast with very little effort. Even though I will include all the recipes for the accompaniments, many can easily be purchased from the convenience food section at your local supermarket. This meal is perfect for the reluctant chef.

I have chosen to use the lamb shoulder. There’s no need to worry about cooking the meat to “perfectly pink”, or concern over the meat drying out. Cooking the shoulder for a nice lengthy period, results in tender, succulent, fall-off-the-bone, kinda stuff.

I will be marinating the meat in some spices typical of the area, however, you can buy a dry spice blend from your local. Look for blends that suggest that they include middle eastern type flavours. Look for key works like “Moroccan”, “Ras al Hanout”, “Harissa”, “Baharat”, “Chermoula”, etc.

I have some very traditional, and some, not so traditional accompaniments here. First, I am going to make a super quick flatbread…no kneading or proving required. You could also skip the bread, and use any whole grain, or couscous type thing in your salad.

Then, because we’re in the heart of Autumn, I am going to forgo the usual chopped salad of tomato and cucumber, for a heartier roast butternut salad, with crumbly feta cheese, nuts, and pomegranate.

Then comes the condiments. This meal cannot be served without a creamy hummus, and a yogurt saucy type thing. Make them yourself, or buy them in. Hummus comes in so many flavours now. Just pick your favourite. If you are looking to purchase the yogurt sauce, just look for Tzatsiki, or a Yogurt/Herb/Feta sort of dip.

Ok, so here are the recipes for your middle eastern lamb feast that can easily serve 4-6 people.

  • Slow Roast Lebanese Lamb Shoulder
  • Cheat Flatbread
  • Roast Butternut Salad with Feta, Pomegranate and Almonds
  • Hummus
  • Garlic and Herb Yogurt Sauce

Slow Roast Lebanese Lamb Shoulder

Ingredients:

1 ½ – 2kg lamb shoulder (bone in)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli flakes/ cayenne pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika/regular paprika
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups water

Method:

     

  • Make your paste marinade with the garlic, spices, oil, and lemon juice.
  • Rub the paste all over the lamb shoulder. Ideally, you would marinate the meat for 24 hours in the refrigerator, but if you don’t have that time, not to worry, you can use it immediately.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  • Place the marinated lamb, fat side up in a roasting dish, and pour the water around the base.
  • Cover with foil or tight-fitting lid and roast for 3 hours, basting the meat after each hour.
  • At this point, remove the foil and roast for an additional 30mins, until nice and brown.
  • The bone can be easily removed, and your meat pulled apart… please don’t use a knife. A fork will do, if you must.

 

Cheat Flatbread

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 ¼ cups plain yogurt
olive oil for brushing

Method:

   

 

  • Combine your flour, baking powder, salt, and yogurt. Mix until a smooth dough comes together.
  • Divide the dough into 8-12 balls and roll them out into flat disks. Brush the disks with a thin film of olive oil.
  • Put a dry pan on medium heat and give it a few minutes to heat up.
  • Place the dough, oil-side down, in the dry pan. The dough will start to bubble up a bit. Leave it for 1 minute, brush the top side of the dough with a little more oil and flip.
  • Leave it for another minute. Both sides should be golden in colour.

 

Roast Butternut Salad with Feta, Pomegranate and Almonds

(I prefer to omit the quantities because, these salads are best prepared giving you license to follow your personal preference… more cheese, fewer herbs, no pomegranate… however the mood strikes)

Ingredients:

Butternut squash, peeled and cubed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pickled onion, sliced (optional)
Feta Cheese
Pomegranate Seeds
Toasted Almonds
Fresh Herbs (Mint and Parsley)

Method:

  

  • Rub some olive oil over your butternut cubes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°C, and roast for approximately 40min, or until the cubes are soft with caramelised edges.
  • Then all that’s left to do is to combine the remaining ingredients with the proportions of your choosing.

 

Hummus

(For this recipe I have given quantities as a guideline. If you like it tart, add lemon juice. I you like more spice, add cumin or paprika… more garlic, less tahini… there are no hard and fast rules.)

Ingredients:

1 tin chickpeas, drained (1/2 cup cooked chickpeas)
¼ cup lemon Juice
¼ cup tahini
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp cumin
Salt
2-3 tbsp water
Paprika or Sumac to serve (optional)

Method:
  • Blend the chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic, cumin, and olive oil, until smooth. You may have to stop and scrape the edges a few times.
  • Season with salt
  • Add small quantities of water whilst blending… this is what makes the result creamy and light.
  •  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of sumac or paprika.

 

Garlic and Herb Yogurt Sauce

(This sauce is an amazingly simple base to which many ingredients can be added. For some variation, add one of the following: cucumber, feta, grilled aubergine, tahini)

Ingredients:

1 cup plain yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp chopped herbs (I used dill and parsley, but you can also include fennel, celery leaves, chives, or mint)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Olive oil to serve (optional)

Method:
  • Combine all your ingredients making sure to season with salt and pepper.
  • Top with a lashing of olive oil if you’d like.
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