Can you remember the last memorable meal you had? I mean, so memorable, but you will remember it for the rest of your life and you will forever have fond memories of it…
It doesn’t happen very often to me but sometimes a particular dish leaves such a deep impression with me that I can’t ever forget about it. Actually, it gnaws on me, my tongue yearning to taste it all over again. The obsession grows so much that later I will do anything to get my hands on the recipe to attempt preparing it at home. The most recent experience I had of this peculiarity is when I visited Awana and tasted the Udang Harimau, which comprises four king prawns in a sweet sauce, absolutely finger-looking good. I can’t wait to get the opportunity to visit the Malaysian restaurant again and order the dish for a mind-blowing £25. Yeah yeah, exorbitant, but life is short!
In 2008 I visited London’s Taste Festival and came across Tom’s Kitchen that served Seven hour braised lamb shoulder with balsamic onions and mash. Apparently it was one of the most popular dishes of the event and you wouldn’t be surprised if you tasted it. Since then I have been scouring the web for the recipe but to no avail. By sheer luck I discovered that the tiny village I live in has a mobile library that comes around every two weeks. And the niftiest thing of all? You can reserve books for free, whereas at standard libraries you have to pay for each reservation. One of the first books I ordered was Tom Aikens Cooking hoping the recipe will be in there. Bingo!
The few times I have cooked it the lamb came out simply divine but I am still struggling with the onions that somehow remain crispy, unlike the ones I had at the food festival. Next time I will chop the onions in quarters so that the oil can cover them more thoroughly and softening them in the process. The sauce is on the tangy side but works beautifully when it cuts through the fattiness of the lamb. For those of you who are lucky enough to live in or close to London, you can enjoy this dish at Tom’s Kitchen. Here is the original recipe.
Lamb cooked slowly so that it slides apart is possibly the most decadent, yet simple spring dishes. This lamb recipe just screams out for a glass of rounded, supple, rich red wine. Château Chantelune is produced in the prestigious Margaux appellation on Bordeaux and is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
The wine has been aged in oak barrels adding an elegant cedar wood softness to the forest fruits and rich fruit cake characters. It has a warm, rich texture with firm tannins and when paired with the melt-in-the-mouth lamb it is inviting, enveloping and sumptuous. Buy it here.
Download and/or print the recipe! Click HERE.
7 Hour Slow-Roast Shoulder of Lamb
Preparation: 24 hrs marinating – Cooking Time: 6-7 hrs
- 1 shoulder of lamb, weighing about 2.5kg
- 150ml (5 fl oz) olive oil
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 garlic bulb, plus extra sliced cloves for marinating
- sea salt and black pepper
- 8 medium onions, peeled
- 250ml (1 cup) balsamic vinegar
- If you like, you can marinate the lamb for a day in the olive oil with 6-8 sprigs thyme and some extra thinly sliced garlic. Turn it occasionally. Before you cook the lamb, leave it out of the fridge for a good hour or two, so that the meat is at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 170°C/350°F/gas 4).
- If you have marinated the lamb, remove the thyme and garlic, then season with 2g salt and 4-6 turns of freshly milled black pepper. If not, rub the olive oil into the meat, and then season with the salt and pepper.
- Place the meat in a large casserole with whole peeled onion, the latter can be drizzled with olive oil and seasoned as well. Place a little olive oil in the bottom of the pan, then place the casserole into the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the lamb and onions have coloured.
- Remove the casserole from the oven, then add about 8 sprigs thyme along with the garlic cloves. Reduce the oven temperature to 110°C (fan 90°C/230°F/gas ¼) , and return the meat to the oven. Cook for 5 hours with the lid on.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 1 hour.
- Place the casserole on to a low heat to reduce any excess liquid. Baste the lamb with this during the reducing, along with the onions, Just be careful they don’t stick or burn. See Serving Suggestion.
- Serve the soft meat cut in pieces with the onions, some of the jus, a few cloves of garlic, and some mashed potato.