take it real, real slow

super slow roasted lamb with pistachio & mint sauce

There’s nothing quite like a Sunday roast for feeding a crowd. Be it a tasty free range, a succulent rolled pork belly, a rib of beef, a whole salmon or the weekly classic when I was growing up; a leg of lamb, a roast is an easy option when there are lots of mouths to feed.

So you may be wondering why I’m talking about roasts this week, I mean it is Summer and surely there’s nothing new to putting a hunk of protein in the oven for an hour or so, allowing it to rest and serving it up. Well dear readers you’ll be pleased to know that lately I’ve had a bit of a revelation in the roasting department and now seems a good a time as any to share.

It all started about six months ago when my favourite Irishman was introducing me to that crazy chef slash food scientist, Heston Blumenthal. In his quest for the perfect steak Heston roasted a forerib of beef at abour 50C for 18hours to cook it through and then seared the outside to finish it off. Now it did seem like a long time to be cooking what is normally a pretty quick meal but it did get me thinking.

A few months later I was reading Maggie Beer and she mentioned that the best beef she had ever cooked was in a 70C oven for 3 hours with an hour to rest. She said that she’d been skeptical at first but was so impressed with the results that she wouldn’t think about going back to the old high temperature, relatively short time method.

Recently, when cooking a not exactly inexpensive ribeye of beef, I decided to follow Hestons lead and slow roast the meat as a whole piece before resting and dividing into steaks and BBQing to sear the outside. To say it was a success is an absolute understatement. One of my dear friends Jo, who dabbles in vegetarianism from time to time declared it the best steak she had ever eaten and decided that quitting meat permanently was just not a good idea.

And if all that wasn’t enough to convince me on the virtues of the super slow roast, I had another encounter. I was in Melbourne a few weeks ago staying with the lovely Missy Helgs and we had been out on the town enjoying the delights of the Speigeltent and returned home ravenous. There was talk of cheese on toast until we spied the leftovers in the fridge. A leg of lamb that had been roasted a few days before for 4 hours at 100C just waiting for two hungry girls. Succulently pink and full of flavour I remember thinking to myself that this was possibly the best lamb I’d ever eaten, a huge call given that I grew up on a sheep farm, but I’m willing to put it out there…..all good things.

super slow roasted lamb
serves 8 – 10

I seriously recommend you invest in a meat thermometer if you like roasting large hunks of meat. It takes the guess work out of it and makes it an even easier meal to prepare.

I used a shoulder for the photo above as they tend to be a little smaller, but as I quickly discovered it does have the disadvantage of being tricky to carve compared with a leg.

If you’re not in the mood for spice by all means ditch the ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice blend) or substitute in your own favourite spices or try the blend HERE.

For accompaniments in the Summer you could stick to the Middle Eastern vibe as I did and serve it with tabbouleh but anything that is fresh and light and lets the succulent lamb shine will be perfect. Something like the a shaved zucchini & mint salad or a green bean with preserved lemon salad or even an earthy crunchy raw beet salad would do the trick

1 leg or shoulder of lamb
3T ras el hanout
4 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and roughly chopped
1/4C (65mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 large brown onions, peeled and thinly sliced.
pistachio & mint sauce, to serve

Trim lamb of any excessive fat and combine ras el hanout, rosemary and oil and season well. Rub lamb with the marinade and cover and refrigerate for up to 48hours. Remove lamb from the refrigerator a few hours before you’re ready to cook.

Turn oven onto its lowest setting (approx 100C on my dodgy gas number).  Scatter onions over the base of a roasting tray and top with lamb. Roast for approx 4 hours or until a meat thermometer comes to 63C. Remove lamb and keep in a warm place to rest for at least an hour. Meanwhile, increase oven temp to 200C and return onions to cook until softened brown approx 45mins.

To serve, carve lamb into thin slices and divide between plates along with the onion and top with a generous dollup of pistachio sauce.

pistachio & mint sauce
makes approx 2 cups

Inspired by the talented Sam& Sam Clarke from one of my recent acquisitions the first Moro cookbook.

The gorgeous green colour of this sauce looks really pretty alongside the rosy lamb but I imagine it would work equally well with fish especially salmon or even as a chunky topping on a shaved zucchini salad.

200g shelled pistachios
1 medium slice sourdough bread (approx 40g), crusts removed
1 clove garlic, smashed & finely chopped
½ bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
3 sprigs mint, leaves picked
zest 1 lemon
3T lemon juice
1/2C extra virgin olive oil
3/4C – 1C water

Place pistachios in a food processor with bread, garlic, parsley and mint and whiz until finely chopped. Add lemon juice and oil and some of the water and puree until smooth. Taste and season and continue to add water until you have a saucy consistency.

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{ 7 comments }

Annie December 8, 2008 at 9:47 pm

Wow. I can just imagine how good that roast is, but it’s my dodgy oven that I don’t trust! I might have to convince my sister to make this one!

katie December 9, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Coincidentally we’ve been slow roasting lamb shoulders on the weber (as an aside rolling it makes it much easy to carve. My smeg on steroids prevents this kind of thing being done inside (for which I’m not really sorry as it means the heat stays outside.

That pistachio and mint sauce looks sublime.

Karen December 10, 2008 at 4:32 am

I just had to leave a post. I’ve been reading blogs for about 8 months now and at first, I saved many blogs. Now I only go back to a few that are worthwhile and yours is one of the best. Your pictures are beautiful and the recipes look wonderful. The blog is definately a keeper and hopefully in the future when I have time to cook, I can look thru old posts and find a recipe to wow others. Of course, I’ll give you full credit!

zoe / puku December 11, 2008 at 4:30 am

another Moro gem, hey…. you are doing a very good job convincing me I need to add it to my cookbook wishlist!

I’m so impatient, but I love the gentle pink of this lamb.. yum!

Mary December 17, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Yep, slow roasting is the way to go. Although Heston’s book contains seemingly few recipes, they aren’t without valuable lessons. I’m done eating roasts that are tough as old boots or cooked to the the culinary equivalent of sawdust even if it means taking along the Sunday roast to the in-laws. I’m sure they are mildly offended but it’s nowhere near the pain I feel when they put that pink goodness back in the oven!

Your post-speigeltent picnic was mouthwatering and the delicate jade of the sauce, gorgeous!

Catherine December 2, 2011 at 11:34 am

I’ve just put my lamb leg in the oven at 70C. The anticipation is already killing me!

Catherine December 4, 2011 at 10:24 am

An incredible success! Thanks Jules! I’ve been charged with this next Christmas get-together too.

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