Friday, April 6, 2018

Slow-roasted, spice-rubbed shoulder of lamb with pita and tzatziki

There’s nothing like the smell of lamb roasting in the oven on Easter day.

If we were spending Easter in Greece this year with our families and friends, there would most certainly be lamb on a spit on the menu, but since we’re staying in the Netherlands, roasted lamb it is. Not that I’m complaining, because in all honesty, I prefer it.

I have already shared with you my traditional Greek leg of lamb, and the slow-roasted Greek shoulder of lamb with herbs and potatoes last year, and now it’s time for this; something a bit different, a shoulder of lamb rubbed and coated with an incredibly aromatic mixture of spices, garlic, parsley and olive oil, marinated overnight and roasted in the oven the next day for almost five hours.

Needless to say, those five hours will seem like a million, because the smell of that lamb roasting with the spices is going to drive you crazy with anticipation. It will be like torture for your soul but your patience will be rewarded by the most flavorful and tender lamb you’ll ever eat. It will be falling off the bone, it will be juicy and deeply savory with the spices complementing its flavor in the most wonderful way.

And the best part comes now; the eating part. It’s not just having a piece of meat on your plate with a few sides, it’s a whole experience. Sitting down comfortably at the Easter table with your loved ones, having all those fluffy pites ready, your salad, your tzatziki, your sumac red onions with parsley —all the accompaniments to the main dish that more often than not seem to be neglected, but little do people know that they make all the difference— digging in, creating a different type of souvlaki, much more advanced and infinitely more delicious.

Take your warm pita, open it up, place some shredded pieces of lamb inside, drizzle with the juices from the pan (there will be plenty!) and a good squeeze of lemon, add some of the carrot, red cabbage and apple salad with ladolemono (olive oil and lemon dressing) on top, a small handful (or big if you’re anything like me) of the finely sliced red onion mixed with fresh parsley and sumac, and finish off with a good dollop or two of the glorious tzatziki.

Juicy, tender meat, spicy, slightly hot and sweet and deeply fragrant, with unctuous, crispy skin, with the crunchy salad adding acidity to balance the richness and strong flavor of the lamb, freshening it up, with the onion and sumac adding zing and spark, and the tzatziki lending its creaminess to the whole lot while the warm, soft pita being the ideal vessel to carry it all into your mouth.

Not only the best Easter meal ever, but the best any-day meal if you’re looking to eat something utterly scrumptious.

Kalo Pascha!! Happy Easter!!

Slow-roasted, spice-rubbed shoulder of lamb with pita and tzatziki

Bear in mind before you start that the lamb needs to be marinated for 8-12 hours so you should prepare it the night before.

As always, using the freshest spices makes a difference in the ultimate flavor of the dish. The freshest the spices, the stronger their flavor and aroma will be.

Yield: 6-8 servings


For the lamb
1.8 - 2 kg whole, bone-in lamb shoulder
Sea salt
spice - garlic - olive oil paste / rub
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp hot paprika
2 tsp sweet ground red pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp Urfa (isot) pepper
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
⅛ tsp ground aniseed
⅛ tsp ground cloves
4 garlic cloves, mashed
A large handful of fresh, flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
3½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the salad
¼ red cabbage, sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1 sweet apple, peeled and cored, cut into large matchsticks
ladolemono dressing
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3½ Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the onion mixture
1 red onion, very finely sliced
A large handful of fresh, flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ tsp ground sumac (or more to taste)

To serve
Tzatziki (this is my recipe for wild garlic tzatziki - if you can’t find wild garlic, use 3-4 regular garlic cloves instead), double quantity
8 pita breads (preferably those with pockets), warm
Lemon, for squeezing

Special equipment: large glass pan/baking dish (to marinate the lamb in), large roasting pan (to roast the lamb in), baking paper, aluminium foil, box grater

The night before, prepare the lamb.
Start by mixing with a spoon all the ingredients for the rub (spices, garlic, parsley and olive oil) in a small bowl. You should have a paste that is easy to spread. If it’s too dry, add a little more olive oi.
Place the lamb in the glass pan and using your hands, smear it with the paste and rub it all over, making sure to coat it well.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate the lamb for 8 and up to 12 hours. I marinate for 12.

The next day, preheat your oven to 160°C.
Τransfer the lamb to a large roasting pan (together with any rub/juices that have accumulated) and season generously the lamb with salt on all sides. Then add 1.5 cm of water to the pan and cover it with baking paper and then with aluminium foil. Seal the foil tightly all around the pan so that no steam can escape during roasting.
Place the pan on the low rack of the preheated oven and roast for 4 hours until the lamb is very tender. The lamb should feel soft when you touch it through the foil. Then, turn the temperature up to 180°C, take off the foil and baking paper (don’t throw them away), using a large spoon baste the lamb with the pan juices, place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and roast for 35 minutes until it is golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven, cover with the reserved baking paper and foil, and leave the lamb to rest for 20 minutes. Then, cut into pieces and season with salt if needed.

In a small bowl, add all the ingredients for the ladolemono and using a fork or a small whisk, beat well to combine.
Toss the cabbage, carrot and apple together in a large salad bowl. Add the ladolemono sauce and toss to coat well.

Onion mixture
Mix onion, parsley and sumac together in a small bowl.

Add shredded pieces of lamb in the warm pita, drizzle with the pan juices, squeeze some lemon over it and add salt if needed. Top with the salad, onion mixture and tzatziki and enjoy!

The lamb tastes fabulous the next day and it remains juicy and tender.

• Προσαρμοσμένη από το περιοδικό Gourmet Traveller

1 comment:

  1. Magda - this sounds so amazing - I know it will be different without the garlic, but I can use shallot. I definitely want to try this soon. xo