04:00PM, Wednesday 09 June 2021
“When I was about 12 years old, I was introduced to the food of Algeria, and by strange means. This was during the Algerian War, and in France there were camps for Algerian refugees. One such camp was close to my village and, with my friend René, I would go and visit these intriguing, kind and friendly people. They fed us well,” recalls chef Raymond Blanc.
“I remember seeing whole lambs roasted on the spit and, as the meat was turned, it was also painted with the spicy juices.
“For my young palate, it was perhaps a bit too spicy. I was the stranger who was drawn in, and have never forgotten their kindness. This dish does not require a whole lamb. When it comes to slow cooking lamb, the shoulder is the best cut, meltingly tender and incredibly tasty. When harissa is added, this is a wonderful dish, and the chickpeas will only complement it.
“A shoulder of lamb varies in weight, becoming heavier as the year progresses.
“A 2.5kg shoulder, like the one in this recipe, will take about four and a half hours; one weighing 3kg will need five and a half hours. Aim to remove it from the fridge four to five hours before cooking to come to room temperature.”
Slow-roasted shoulder of lamb recipe with harissa
1tbsp sea salt
1tbsp ground cumin
100g rose harissa
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
2.5kg new season’s shoulder of lamb
For the chickpea salad:
1 jar (230g) piquillo peppers
2 beldi preserved lemons
A large handful of curly or flat-leaf parsley
2 tins (400g) chickpeas
Sea salt and black pepper
1. Mix together the salt, cumin and harissa, and then add the extra-virgin olive oil. Place the lamb in a roasting tin. Lightly score the skin of the lamb and rub it all over with the salty harissa mixture.
At this point, you can leave the lamb for an hour, allowing the harissa flavours to infuse, but this is not essential.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.
3. Roast the lamb for 20 minutes, and then reduce the temperature to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2. Cover the lamb shoulder loosely with foil, and return it to the oven to roast for a further two hours. Now baste the lamb, add the water and return it to the oven for two hours, again loosely covered with foil.
4. While the lamb is roasting, chop the piquillo peppers, finely chop the preserved lemons (skin and pulp) and coarsely chop the parsley. Put them to one side; you will need them to finish the dish.
5. Remove the lamb from the oven. Spoon out most of the fat from the tin, leaving the roasting juices. To the warm roasting juices, add the chickpeas, peppers and lemon. Add the parsley too and season with the salt and pepper.
Toss together and bring to the boil on the hob. Place the lamb shoulder on a platter with the chickpea salad.
6. Bring the lamb to the table and invite your guests to help themselves. The lamb will be tender enough to fall from the bone with a spoon, though it can be carved if you prefer.
Simply Raymond: Recipes From Home by Raymond Blanc is published by Headline Home on April 29, priced £25. Photography by Chris Terry.
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