Sunday, 3 August 2008


Yesterday I spent the day doing virtually nothing after an accidentally heavy night on Friday which culminated in my going to bed after sunrise. As a result, today I have had the kind of brain fog that descends upon me when I haven't left the house in over twenty four hours. My state of mind was such that the pinnacle of my day was a tearful phonecall to Carrie on the subject of something I really shouldn't care about but apparently I do.

Tempted just to opt for my easy-option-works-everytime comfort food: the proverbial free range organic chicken roasted with copius amounts of garlic and lemon, I pulled out Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries to search for some alternative inspiration. I find that reading his writing is comfort in itself, like wrapping yourself up in a big warm blanket. However, it obviously really was a bad day because nothing jumped out at me, except something must have lodged somewhere in my brain because I decided I wanted lamb instead. Today was not a day for complicated recipes so I decided just to seek out the lamb and let the store cupboard staples and fridge contents do the rest.

Unlike what they say about pastry, apparantly my state of mind didn't affect dinner because it was tasty enough to make me feel a bit better. Well, dinner and the Hendricks and tonic I had before it. Oh, and the bottle of Roija I had with it.

Serves 2

For the lamb:
1.5kg-1.75kg shoulder of lamb
good handful fresh mint
a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
4 cloves of garlic, crushed to a paste
3-4 anchovies, mashed to a paste
juice of 1-2 lemons
good slug olive oil
pinch ground black pepper
Maldon sea salt

For the crushed cannellini beans:
tin cannellini beans
1/2 clove garlic, crushed to a paste
1/2 teaspoon harissa paste
juice of half a lemon
good slug of olive oil
couple of tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
ground black pepper
Maldon sea salt

For the tomatoes:
cherry tomatoes on the vine
slug of olive oil
ground balck pepper
Maldon sea salt

Take the shoulder of lamb and with a sharp knife make several deep cuts through into the flesh. Lay in a roasting tray.

Using a pestle and morter, pound the fresh mint and rosemary until green and sludgy, add the cumin powder, garlic and anchovies and mix well. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and mix until you have a nice thick paste. Season with salt and pepper but remember that the anchovies are already very salty.

Smear this paste all over the lamb shoulder, pushing it well into the holes made with your knife. Ideally, leave this to marinate for an hour or so (though I didn't have time to do this and it still permeated the meat very well). Place in a 180-200 degree oven and roast for 20 minutes per 500g plus an extra 25 minutes if you like your lamb fairly well done - less if you like it juicier and rarer - mine was 1kg and I took it out after just under an hour and it was perfect.

While the lamb is cooking prepare the cannellini beans:

Rinse and drain the beans and place in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mash until you reach the desired consistency - you can do this in a food processor but I prefer the texture to be a bit rougher. Add a few drops of water to loosen it up if necessary.

Ten minutes before the lamb is ready, place the cherry tomatoes (still on their vine) in an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, place in the oven and roast until soft.

When the lamb is cooked, allow to rest for a good ten minutes after you take it out of the oven before carving.

Serve the lamb on the spinach leaves, with the smashed cannellini beans and cherry tomatoes on the side.


Manuel said...

my god that looks amazing......

carine said...

well thank you manuel, it did the job.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

What a lot of soul in this! The lamb looks gorgeous and I love the crushed cannelini beans.

Antonio Tahhan said...

this looks delish!

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