From time to time during the latter years of his life — particularly when my mother's health began to deteriorate — my wonderful father would don an apron and take over the kitchen for the afternoon. Slow-roasting was one of his particular specialities and I have yet to share a couple of his recipes here, but will certainly do so in the fullness of time.
Pot-roasted veal shoulder was at the top of his repertoire and he cooked it with care for hours and hours until the meat would fall away from the bone and was melt-in-the-mouth tender. I was reminded of this when I read a recipe by chef Frank Camorra in his column on the Spectrum pages of the Sydney Morning Herald. 'Gently does it...' was the title of the piece and chef Camorra shared his tips for preparing a slow-cooked lamb shoulder. 'When slow-cooking shoulders of lamb at MoVida,' he wrote, 'we do it by encasing them in a water bath with a device called a circulator which keeps the water temperature at 85 degrees C. We cook them for about seven hours and then let them cool in their own juices in the bag.'
Cooking meat in this slow and gentle way results in the connective tissue being broken down, with the finished joint of meat being succulent and tender, he explained. The recipe he shared detailed a method for home cooks which, he assured, would give a similar outcome. It sounded similar to the way my father cooked his veal shoulder, so I had to try it for myself. But not without the chef's blessing first. 'Of course,' was his reply. In sharing my take on the recipe, I confess that I changed things slightly by using home-grown Meyer lemons and sitting the joint on a base of sliced lemon too. I also used smoked garlic, added a few additional herbs, and cut some tiny slits into the meat, allowing the flavours to better penetrate. Having made it a few times now, I can happily report that it is good, very good!
While on the Sunshine Coast recently, Peter and I visited a particular eatery so we could try their 12-hour slow-cooked lamb shoulder. We had to book-in and place our order several days ahead. The meal was tasty and tender, for sure, but it lacked that full depth of flavour of chef Camorra's dish.
This one is a keeper, my friends. And thank you to chef Frank Camorra for allowing me to share my take on your recipe. I trust I have done you proud, kind sir.
SLOW-ROASTED LAMB SHOULDER WITH BAHARAT, LEMON AND GARLIC
For the marinade:
2 cloves smoked garlic, finely chopped
zest of a large lemon, finely chopped
juice of half a lemon*
1 tablespoon Baharat spice mix
1 tablespoon Mediterranean herbs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2.5-3kg lamb shoulder on the bone+
*slice the other half of the lemon
Combine the marinade ingredients in a jug and whisk thoroughly. Cut some small slits in the top of the lamb using the pointed end of a sharp knife. Pour the marinade over the meat, taking care to brush some of the marinade into the slits you have cut in the meat. If you have allowed enough time, cover and refrigerate the lamb for a few hours, allowing the flavours of the marinade to develop. If not, don't worry too much.
Preheat your oven to 150 degrees C. To roast the lamb, you need a two-piece roasting pan, which will allow you to pour about 250mls of water into the bottom part of the pan. Line the base of the pan with baking paper and arrange the sliced lemon over the base (you will sit the lamb on top of the lemon slices). Pierce one or two tiny holes in the baking paper to allow excess juices to escape. Place the lamb on top of the lemon slices. Cover the lamb with baking paper and then cover completely with a double layer of aluminium foil, making sure it is tightly sealed.
Place the roast into the oven and cook for three hours at 150 degrees C, then carefully check to see if more water is needed in the base of the pan. If yes, add 1/2-1 cup more. Cover the meat again. Lower the heat of the oven to 110 degrees C and cook for a further five or six hours. Remove the aluminium foil for the last hour of cooking to allow the skin to crisp up nicely.
Per the chef's instructions, 'the meat is ready when you can press it with a fork and it has no resistance, so it is falling off the bone.' Serve the shredded meat with a selection of vibrant and fresh vegetables, as I have done here... some lightly roasted cherry tomatoes perhaps, some steamed green beans, and a salad. Serves 6-8.
+ We source our lamb (and other meat, including goat) specially from a local halal butcher.
Place lemon slices in the base of the roasting pan...
Brush the marinade over the lamb shoulder...
Now roast for eight or nine hours, the meat is ready when it's falling off the bone...
Serve with fresh and vibrant vegetables...
My recipe for the accompanying roasted sweet potato salad with maple coconut candied pecans will follow soon on Good Things, so please stay tuned.
Tell me dear readers, did your father ever cook? What were his specialities? Please do share your stories here.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.