Tag Archives: winter

Slow roasted lamb shoulder served with warm lentil, pumpkin and feta salad with mint and orange dressing

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.

To make

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

the rest:
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!)



a winter sundae

Last week (our second back in Australia) was the start of winter. The first of June was cool, but sunny and clear-skied—a timely reminder of why this is a fantastic country to live in.

Winter is a gentle season here. Unlike in the European winter this is the greenest time of year, as most trees don’t loose their leaves.  The sun shines most days, at least for a few hours, and the sky just feels lighter and less oppressive than in the cold north.

One of the advantages of this mild cool season is that a wide variety of fruits and vegetables grow in winter here. The fruit bowl in front of me has beautiful apples, pears and oranges. There are bowls of quinces, lemons and grapefruit waiting for my mother to turn them into jam, and there are even a few late tomatoes hanging around.

This is also, apparently, the harvest time for persimmons. Knowing that my mum is a jam-maker extraordinaire, a colleague of my father sent him home with a bag full of these exotic fruit.

Now we’re a fairly omnivorous bunch, but somehow none of us had ever eaten persimmons (or at least no one remembered that they had). We looked at these lovely burn orange fruit, ummed and ahed, googled and decided to turn them into chutney.

Before we got to the persimmons though, the lovely Zannie dropped by and staged an intervention. She showed us the true path towards persimmon appreciation—slices of peeled fruit eaten just as is.

The fruit turns out to be crunchy and very sweet, something like a cross between the texture of a crunchy pear and the flavour of a rockmelon, but with its very own wonderful thing happening.

So, on Sunday I was thinking about how to turn the persimmons into a light dessert and decided to try grilling them, as you can with peaches or pineapple. The sweetness of the persimmon was heightened by the quick cooking, taking on a toffee-ish flavour while retaining their crunch. Combined with some vanilla-infused whipped cream the grilled fruit were a very sweet and satisfying treat.

to make

One piece of fruit per person

300ml cream
3 drops vanilla essence
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Toasted slivered almonds or wafers for serving

Peel and slice the persimmons and pears into thick wedges. Heat a griddle pan until very hot then grill the fruit on each side just long enough to get deep caramel colour.

Add the vanilla essence and brown sugar to the cream and whip until it is light and just forming soft peaks.

Serve three or four pieces of fruit with a good dollop of the cream and slivered almond or a wafer on top.

How exciting to find a new flavour!