Braised and Spiced Lamb with Lemon & Coriander

Braised and Spiced Lamb with Lemon & Coriander Despite this year’s disappointingly cold start to spring, the seasons are on the move and brighter days bring a taste for different foods. With Easter in March this year,  the traditional first taste of the succulent new season lamb was even earlier than usual – and any decent sized ‘lamb’ in the shops now is likely to be  ‘ hogget’, which is lamb up to a year old.  At the wonderful Ballymaloe House in East Cork, where they raise their own sheep, they find that braising is a useful cooking method for slightly older animals.

This unusual recipe, which combines whole and ground spices in the paste the meat is cooked in, makes a great Sunday lunch or casual dinner, served with a seasonal green vegetable such as purple sprouting broccoli, spring cabbage, kale, or spinach. Traditionalist will probably want roast potatoes with it for lunch, but it would also be good served with other accompaniments suited to spiced dishes such as rice or couscous.

This recipe comes from Irish Country House Cooking, The Blue Book Recipe Collection (Epicure Press EUR25).

Serves 8-10
1 good-sized leg of lamb
1 tsp whole coriander seeds, toasted
1/2 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp whole cumin seed
11/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp curry powder
sea salt & black pepper
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1 dsp chopped rosemary
 4 cloves garlic, peeled & finely chopped
15 fl oz / 435 ml chicken stock
 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
 Lemon wedges to garnish. 

Preheat a moderate oven, 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4.
Combine all the herbs and spices, except the fresh coriander leaves, in a bowl. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based casserole and gently brown the meat all over. Discard the excess fat from the casserole. Season the meat with the sea salt and a grinding of black pepper, and cover with the herb and spice paste. Carefully pour the stock into the casserole, without dislodging the herb and spice topping on the lamb. Cover with a greaseproof paper lid, then the casserole lid, place in the preheated
oven and cook for 90 minutes.
 When the lamb is cooked, remove the casserole from the oven and put the lamb onto a serving dish to rest; keep warm. Remove the excess fat from the cooking liquor, and simmer over moderate heat to
reduce to a richly flavoured gravy. Finally add the chopped coriander leaf to the gravy, and correct the seasoning. Carve the lamb and serve with the gravy, lemon wedges and vegetables of your choice. 

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