Phew! You probably need a rest after reading the ridiculously long title for this recipe, but you really need to know the whole story because it’s the combination of flavours that makes this dish so delicious.
I’ve had a lovely long weekend spent cooking in my Mum’s kitchen. It’s been a bit of a working bee around here, with deck repairs and house painting going on all over the place. My assigned role was as scullery maid, keeping everyone fed, watered and in clean clothing (well, I did one or two loads of laundry).
I served this slightly unconventional version of the classic Sunday roast to a hungry crowd last night and it was very well received.
The seed idea for this dish, which I’ve made once before, started with the combination of unctuous slow-cooked lamb and lentils. I like a bit of tang with legumes, so I mentally wandered on and thought it might be fun to dress the lentils in a version of mint sauce, the classic accompaniment for roast lamb.
The end result is a winter-warmer that still has loads of fresh flavour thanks to the orange and mint.
The lentils I used were beautiful black lentils grown in South Australia. They were lovely and plump and held their shape perfectly after cooking. French-style Puy lentils would be a good equivalent.
for the lamb:
1.5–2kg lamb shoulder, bones in
4ish cloves garlic, whole
3ish sprigs fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
for the lentils:
1.5 cups dried lentils
1 small brown onion
2 centimetre-wide strips orange peel
4ish mint leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
for the dressing:
2–3 tablespoons chopped mint
juice of 1 large orange
white wine vinegar (quantity equivalent to the orange juice)
1–2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1.5 cups pumpkin, in 1.5cm cubes
200g feta cheese, also in 1.5cm cubes
1. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
2. Place the garlic cloves and rosemary in the bottom of a roasting tin. Season the lamb and place it on top of the garlic and rosemary, skin side up. Cover loosely with aluminium foil and place in the hot oven. After 15 minutes turn the heat down to 150°C. Roast for 4–5 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.
3. Do other things for a few hours.
4. Peel and cube the pumpkin then roast on a tray for around an hour (if it’s at 150°C with the lamb) or until it is cooked through and a little coloured.
5. As you’re putting the pumpkin in the oven take the lamb out and drain off the liquid that has collected in the bottom of the pan. Cover the lamb again and return it to the oven. Allow the liquid to sit for 10 minutes or so and then skim the fat off of the top. You should be left with lovely clear juices. Reduce these in a small saucepan until you have just a few tablespoons of lovely lamb essence.
6. In a large-ish saucepan boil 2ish litres of water (I’m so precise!). Meanwhile peel the onion and chop it in half, prepare the strips of orange zest and the mint leaves. Add these to the boiling water along with the lentils. Cook until the lentils are tender but are still holding their shape. Drain then pour back into the saucepan. Stir the olive oil and a pinch of salt through the hot lentils (remember the feta will be very salty so go easy at this stage).
7. To prepare the salad dressing, mix the finely grated orange zest with the orange juice, white wine vinegar and most of the chopped mint.
8. Mix the lentils, pumpkin and the dressing.
9. Prepare the lamb meat by pulling it apart into chunks. It should just fall off the bone.
10. Assembly! At the last moment mix the feta into the rest of the salad and then pour the lot onto a large serving dish that has a bit of a lip (there will be juices to contain). Add the lamb meat and then pour the reduced juices over the meat. Garnish with a final flourish of chopped mint.
11. Devour and collect the praises that will be heaped at your feet by admiring fans (particularly if they are ravenous after a hard day of house painting!)