As a friend, it’s hard not to get affected by what’s going on in the lives of those nearest and dearest to you. It’s been a rough couple of days round here since I received some rather upsetting news from one of my friends, so much so that I decided that a whole day in, eating our feelings and watching old movies back-to-back-to-back-to-back was in order. I do love to take care of people and I definitely believe that the quickest and most efficient way of administering comfort is through feeding them. Believe you me, there is nothing as comforting, bolstering and uplifting as food.
With the weather quickly turning cool of late, slow-roasting a massive hunk of meat seemed like the perfect idea. My choice of meat? Lamb. (Duh.)
(Ok, I’m laughing now because I’m recalling how apologetic – and slightly terrified – the poor waiter was when he told me there wasn’t any more lamb when I went to Greedy Cow with N a few days ago after rather unfortunately missing my Medical Ethics tutorial. I didn’t cry or anything but I really was quite visibly upset.)
I got a bone-in shoulder – which is probably my favorite cut of lamb – slow-roasted it for FOUR HOURS, and sandwiched the melt-in-your-mouth-tender result in some toasted rolls slathered with roasted garlic and truffle mayonnaise.
And you know what? It was TOO GOOD not to share.
- 1.5kg bone-in lamb shoulder
- 1 head of garlic – split into individual cloves, crushed but left whole and unpeeled
- 1 large handful of rosemary
- 4tbsps balsamic vinegar
- 2tbsps brown sugar
- olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste
STEP 1: Crank your oven to the highest possible setting. I set mine at 220℃, fan-forced.
STEP 2: Line a deep, sturdy baking dish with foil. (Don’t ignore this step. The last thing you want to be doing when you’re not feeling your greatest is scrubbing dishes.)
STEP 3: Cover the bottom of the dish with half the garlic and rosemary.
STEP 4: Clean and dry your lamb. You can trim the excess fat if you want but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of cushion. Season it (very well) ALL OVER with salt and pepper, then prop it on top of the rosemary and garlic.
STEP 5: Douse it with a little olive oil (you don’t need much because lamb is VERY fatty), balsamic vinegar and rub in some brown sugar. (You can use honey but I’d run out.)
STEP 6: Layer on the remaining rosemary and garlic.
STEP 7: Wrap that little baby up snugly in another layer of foil, making sure you seal it well.
STEP 8: Put your baking tray in your preheated oven, then IMMEDIATELY turn the heat down to 160℃ and forget about it for FOUR HOURS. That’s right, FOUR.
After four hours in the oven, it should be fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth tender. When I pulled it out of the oven, I, who was watching earnestly, asked me how one would test to see if it was done.
So, yeah, basically…
You stick a knife into it. Like so.
It should be gloriously burnished all over and the meat should be pink and tender.
Discard the sad, shrivelled up bits of rosemary. They have done their job. 4 hours of slow-roasting would have properly drained them of their life-force and perfumed your lamb nicely. Do yourself a favour and SET ASIDE THOSE CLOVES OF ROASTED GARLIC.
The lamb will be so tender that it won’t be difficult at all to tear it up into sizeable chunks and pile it onto a plate. The difficulty would be in keeping your grubby little paws off them.
When that’s done, it’s time to put together the mayo.
- 6tbsps full-fat mayonnaise (store-bought is fine because it’s what goes into it that makes it so, so good)
- black pepper to taste
- roasted garlic (that you should have saved from the lamb…)
- 2 tbsps truffle oil – I used a white truffle oil I bought a few weeks ago but use any sort you like
Really, all there is to it is to slap it all into a bowl.
And mash it altogether with a fork.
This was heavenly. If you know me, you’ll know about my passion for truffle. And garlic. And mayo. That is my life made right there in that bowl. (We were eating it by the tablespoon straight out of the bowl hahaha.)
Then all that remains is a simple assembly job.
Butter and toast up (I say ‘toast’ but really I fried them HAHAHA) some rolls, and slather on some of that mayo.
Pile on some cool, crisp mixed leaves of your choice. (I am well aware that it is a lot more chic to use rocket or arugula but UGH they are both way too bitter for my taste so I’ll leave that to you.) And make a meat tower with your lamb – really pile it on. And whatever you do, DO NOT even think about attempting to put every piece of lamb that falls out back into your roll. Simply pop it in your mouth and replace it with a fresh chunk – there’s plenty.
Finally, you may pop that lid on. You may need some help holding it together.
I said you may need some help holding it together, not the roll.
But alright, now you may eat.
The basic idea is to repeat the assemble-and-eat process – repeat it until you EXPLODE.
Us 2 girls polished off the 1.5kg of lamb between us, after which we proceeded to gorge ourselves silly on pudding – saving that for another post; I made one of her/my favorites! – while watching Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which is one of my favorite books/films, not least because 1) Penelope Cruz is really something else 2) I love laughing at Nicolas Cage’s receding hairline 3) I love laughing at Nicolas Cage’s faux-Italian accent 4) I love laughing at Nicolas Cage, period.
Food really is the answer to all life’s ills, or at least, a brilliant salve. I am pleased to say that I was much better by the end of the night. And as for myself, I can at least take comfort in the fact that, while I am good at little else, I make a pretty alright friend.
“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being ‘in love’, which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.” (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin)