Life Food & Drink

Friday 22 August 2014

Braised Shoulder of Lamb with Mediterranean Couscous

Neven Maguire

Published 28/10/2012 | 06:00

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A version of this dish often makes an appearance on our Sunday-lunch menu, or I have it as an element on a tasting plate of Irish lamb. I just love to showcase the versatility of this meat.

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Make sure you ask your local butcher to trim, bone and roll the shoulder for you so that you end up with a nice shape for presentation.

Serves four.

YOU WILL NEED

3 tbsps rapeseed oil

675g/1½lb boned lamb shoulder, rolled and tied at intervals with string

2 carrots, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

1 leek, diced

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1.2 litres/2 pints beef stock

600ml/1 pint red wine

2 fresh thyme sprigs

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

1 tbsp tomato puree

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsps Madeira

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp light brown sugar

Knob of butter

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the lamb shoulder and brown all over for six to eight minutes, turning regularly with tongs.

Add the carrots, celery, leek, onion and garlic and cook for another 10 minutes, until the vegetables are golden brown.

Place the lamb and vegetables in a large, deep roasting tin. Cover with the stock, red wine, herbs and tomato puree. Season to taste, then cover with foil and cook in the oven for three hours, until the lamb is really tender. Leave to cool completely and rest in the juices.

Once it has cooled, remove the lamb from the pan. Strain the juices into a clean bowl and discard the vegetables. Cover the juices and keep in the fridge until needed.

Cut off the string, then tightly roll the lamb in a double layer of tinfoil to create a firm sausage shape. When cold, place in the fridge overnight to firm up.

Place the reserved braising juices in a pan and add in the Madeira, vinegar and sugar. Bring to the boil and cook for 25-30 minutes, until reduced by half to a sauce consistency. Season to taste and keep warm.

When ready to serve, remove the tinfoil from the lamb cylinder and trim off the ends, then carve into 4cm x 5cm (2in) slices.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the remaining two tablespoons of the oil and the knob of butter. Once the butter stops sizzling, add the lamb pieces and cook for two to three minutes on each side, until crisp, golden brown and nicely warmed through. To serve, spoon the Mediterranean couscous (see below) on to each warmed plate using a 9cm (3¾in) cooking ring. Place the crispy braised lamb on top and spoon over the sauce made from the braising juices.

Cook ahead

This whole dish can be prepared up to two days in advance. The shoulder is best cooked at least the day before so that it can be rolled really tight to give the joint a good shape.

Wine match

Try a Cotes du Rhone from Rasteau or Gigondas, or a Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine from Bordeaux.

For the Mediterranean Couscous

Serves six.

YOU WILL NEED

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 small red onion, diced

1 small courgette, trimmed and finely diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 red pepper, roasted, cored and finely diced

150ml/¼ pint tomato juice

1 tbsp tomato puree

Dash of balsamic vinegar

Pinch of sugar

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

400ml/14fl oz vegetable stock

Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

175g/6oz couscous

2 tbsps lemon oil

4 tbsps toasted pine nuts

4 tbsps chopped fresh mixed herbs, such as mint, coriander and flat-leaf parsley

Method

Heat the rapeseed oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the red onion, courgette and garlic and cook for two minutes, stirring. Add in the red pepper and cook for one minute more, stirring.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the tomato juice, puree, vinegar and sugar, and cook for five to six minutes, then add the basil and season to taste. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil and add in the lemon juice, then season to taste. Keep warm.

Toast the couscous on a dry pan for two to three minutes, until golden brown, tossing constantly and being careful not to let it burn. Transfer to a large bowl and add in the lemon oil and rind and mix well to combine.

Pour in the hot stock, then cover with clingfilm and leave to sit until all the liquid is absorbed.

Just before serving, stir in the warm vegetable mixture along with the pine nuts and herbs. Mix well to combine and season to taste -- you should have about 900g (2lb) in total. Use as required.

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