I adore the combination of flavours in North African cooking, the rich tagines, delicate sweet pastries, mounds of minted, olive oil rich couscous, bulgar wheat salads gleaming with jewel-like pomegranate seeds – and now, with autumn on the way i’d like to share one of my favourite, albeit possibly inauthentic, recipes combining local Welsh Lamb (which I firmly believe is some the best in the world) with those flavours synonymous with Morocco – garlic, lemon, honey, figs, ras-al-hanout – all melding together to create an extremely ‘moorish’ dish.
This would make an excellent alternative Sunday lunch or supper party dish, served with a roasted vegetable couscous, or even simply jacket potatoes and salad. The lamb is also excellent tucked into warmed flatbreads with some hummus, spiced yoghurt and a dash of pomegranate molasses. The leftovers (including the bone) can be turned into a simple spiced lamb broth with a few chick peas, veggies and squeeze of Harissa – two meals for the price of one and no waste. I do recommend marinating the meat overnight as it allows the flavours to penetrate the meat.
Serves 4-6 with leftovers
2.5 kg shoulder of lamb (bone in)
2 preserved lemons, sliced
2 heaped tsp ras-al-hanout spice blend – I use Parva Spices
A good handful of fresh parsley
6 cloves of garlic, smashed with their skins
2 tbls of good olive oil
4 chopped, dried figs
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses – this can be found in specialty food shops, in some delis or online from The Belazu Ingredient Company, and gives a rich intensity without too much sweetness
1 heaped tablespoon runny honey
Place the lamb in a large casserole or in a roasting dish, slash the meat diagonally at 2 cm intervals to make little pockets in the meat.
Slice the lemons and figs, and roughly chop the parsley
In a small bowl mix the Ras-al-Hanout, olive oil, seasoning and pomegranate molasses
Rub this into the meat, making sure to cover the surface completely
Push the lemon, garlic, parsley and fig slices into the slashed pockets, then drizzle with the honey
Cover well and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge
Remove the meat from the fridge and bring to room temperature
Heat the oven to 150 degrees C , gas mark 2, 300 degree f.
Place the meat in the oven, covered with foil or lidded (if using a casserole)
Cook for four hours, checking every hour or so
If you do find the meat looks as if it is a little dry, add some lamb stock (this can be from a stockpot or cube). Lamb shoulder is a relatively fatty cut, yielding delicious juices so this shouldn’t really be a problem.
Remove the lid, turn the oven up to 180 degrees C, Gas Mark 4, 350 degrees F and cook for a further 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender, browned and a little crisp on the outside
Rest the meat for at least 15 minutes before serving.
I like to serve my lamb with wholegrain couscous which I stir into the juices whilst the meat is resting, adding lemon, mint, stock and seasoning, bringing to the boil and then leaving for few minutes to ‘fluff’ – this is a great way of using up all those lovely juices and means the couscous really packs a flavour punch.