Category Archives: Lamb

Seven-Hour Lamb Roast with Garlic

sevenhl3pMy rudimentary photography equipment requires natural light, so, just like every year, I had waited for long months until days became long enough to feature on my blog also the dishes I eat exclusively for dinner. I was particularly impatient to write about this seven-hour lamb roast, one of the most exciting discoveries not only of the past winter, but of my long cooking experience. The arrival of spring means young lamb’s season and its particularly tender delicate meat made this dish unsurprisingly superior to all the previous winter versions I already considered extraordinary, so now I’m even more eager to share it with you.

I kept on reading about seven-hour lamb roast for many years, but somehow I was put off the long cooking process and the limitation to those weekend days when I was certain to stay at home. Meanwhile, I never managed to get my lamb roasts right: they ended up too dry and slightly tough at the same time. I don’t remember why, but one Sunday I simply decided to give the slow method a go. I added my usual lamb seasoning, briefly browned the meat and then put it into the oven for the whole day. The result went well beyond all my expectations: I had never tasted so amazingly tender lamb! Moreover, it’s so effortless… Now I cannot imagine roasting it in any other way. While I am still fond of briefly grilled rare cutlets, when it comes to roasts, the seven-hour lamb is the incontestable winner.

TIPS: You can use here any lamb cut, as long as it’s not too lean. My favourite are those with bones (shoulder or leg) which largely improve the flavours. Lamb is quite fatty, so I must admit I cut off most of the visible outer fat and, in spite of this, the result is juicy and tender.

Slowly cooked lamb “melts” much more than a quick roast, so you need to buy more meat. Moreover, if you buy meat with bone for the first time, it’s difficult to say how many portions you will obtain. It depends on the size of the bone (I often buy half a leg and if it’s the lower part, it often has more bone…), on the amount of fat, which will partly melt and partly be left aside (see above), on the side dishes (if you serve potatoes and not a salad, obviously you’ll eat much less…), on the starters… and most of all on your appetite! It’s always better to ask your butcher or even safer, to buy more and then reheat the rest another day (it’s delicious warmed and then eaten in a sandwich with chilli sauce/chilli jam – and pickles). 

I always roast lamb in a casserole (aka Dutch oven) which is also adapted to stovetop cooking, but if you don’t have it, brown the meat in a pan and then transfer to a baking dish with a lid.

Most people swear by cooking lamb with white wine, but I have noticed that both red and white wine are good, though I wouldn’t advise very tannic red wine with young lamb’s delicate meat. The wine has to be drinkable, not corked, etc., but keep a good bottle of wine to drink afterwards. (I only drink red wine with this hearty dish).

Make sure there is plenty of liquid in the casserole. The “sauce” shouldn’t be as thick as with a normal roast (in my opinion, it’s best very “thin”…).

This is a highly garlicky and fiery version, so if you are a moderate garlic eater and aren’t used to hot flavours, cut down on both.

Preparation: 7 hours

Ingredients (serves three – four, but the portions depend on many things, see the TIPS above):

1,3-1,4 kg (2.8-3 lbs) lamb shoulder or leg, both with bone (if you buy a cut without bones, 1 kg should be enough, but it depends on many things, see the TIPS above); if the cut is covered with a thick layer of fat, count even 1,5 kg or more

1-2 heads of garlic

a couple of dried red chillies, deseeded

2 glasses (2×100 ml) dry wine (white or red)

rosemary, thyme, powdered garlic, salt, powdered chilli

300 ml (about 10 oz) chicken/vegetable stock or water

I always start by cutting off a big part of the outer meat fat, but you can keep it of course.

Peel the garlic cloves. Take five cloves and cut them into 4-5 thin strips lengthwise. Leave the remaining cloves whole.

Make thin cuts in your roast (lengthwise) and stuff them with garlic strips (do this after each cut, so that you remember well where you did them).

Rub the meat with the spices and leave to reach room temperature.

Heat the oven to 120°C.

Heat the oil in the casserole you will use in the oven.

Brown briefly the meat on both sides at high heat (it’s mainly for aesthetic reasons… otherwise the meat will be greyish).

Pour the wine and quickly put the casserole aside.

Add more spices (I always add some more thyme, rosemary and chilli), some more salt and water or stock.

Throw the remaining garlic cloves into the casserole and the dried chillies.

Cover and leave in the oven for 7 hours.

Check every hour if there is still enough liquid.

After six hours, flip the meat over. Flip it back just before serving.

Spring Rolls with Leftover Roast, Carrot and Mint

What do you do with leftover roast? For many years I used to put it into salads, sandwiches or stir-fries and then one day I simply wrapped them in rice paper with some vegetables and glass noodles, making very unorthodox version of spring rolls. Since then this is the first thing I think about when I take out the leftover roast from the fridge. Spring rolls with leftover meat proved not only easy, quick and healthy, but most of all extremely versatile and convenient. They can be made with any vegetable found in the fridge, while rice paper and glass noodles can be stocked for long months or even years. If you have ever made spring rolls you probably know that they can be served for any meal of the day, as a starter, a snack or a main dish. They are also an excellent choice for a picnic, for packed lunch at work and I often prepare them for long car journeys instead of traditional sandwiches. (If you are not the one who drives, you can even dip them in a bowl of sauce!). Last but not least, they can be made well in advance and kept in the fridge for several days (as long as they are tightly wrapped in cling film).

The rolls can be served with any sauce of your choice, but my absolute favourite now is a mixture of soy sauce, chili oil and vinegar. It’s hot and slightly acid thank to the vinegar.

Preparation: 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

2 big slices of roast chicken, turkey, pork, beef, lamb…

6-8 (22 cm or 8 3/4 in) rice paper sheets

1 small individual package of glass noodles (40 g)

2 big carrots

mint leaves

(roast sesame seeds)

Dipping sauce:

5 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (or less if using standard soy sauce)
1 tablespoon chili oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Cover the noodles with boiling water. Put aside for 15 minutes.

In the meantime cut up the carrots into matchsticks and cut the roast slices into rectangular pieces.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl.

Fill a big wide bowl with warm (not hot) water.

Dip rice paper sheets one by one in the water, immersing them delicately so that you don’t break them.

As soon as the sheet softens ( after about ten seconds), put it onto a chopping board.

Rinse the noodles.

Place horizontally a stack of the carrot and roast pieces, a bit of the noodles and the mint leaves close the the rice paper edge (the
one which is closest to you).

Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you like them and roll tightly starting from the edge which is closest to you.

Proceed in the same way with the remaining rolls.

Serve them immediately as they are or cut in two horizontally.

If you wish to serve them later, wrap them individually in cling film because they dry out very quickly.



Lamb Masala

Usually when the lamb season starts, I start enjoying it by grilling lamb chops. However, since it has been quite cold for over a week I decided to make an Indian curry. Even though I have been preparing Indian curries for years, I am not sure if the sources I take them from are not too “westernised”… This time I decided to look for more “genuine” sounding recipes and finally chose to adapt the Mutton Masala from the recently discovered Hooked on Heat blog. All I can say is I was not disappointed. The word “masala” means roughly “mixture”; on one hand it can be a mixture of spices (dried or forming a paste used in curries) and, on the other, a name of a dish and this one tasted like nothing I have ever had at home or in any Indian restaurant. It was perfect and confirmed what I have always suspected: a good Indian dish is not necessarily full of fat! I will certainly come back to Hooked on Heat for new recipes!

Since I have bad experience with whole spices in sauces and hate biting into a clove by accident, I crushed peppercorns, used powdered cinnamon and cloves. Cumin is the only spice I left whole. I have also changed a bit the ingredients’ proportions and didn’t have any coriander to sprinkle on the dish (the mint branch served merely as a decoration). However I am sure it tastes perfect with fresh coriander.

I used lamb instead of mutton. Maybe this is the reason I had to let the dish simmer for 3 hours; the meat softened very slowly…

Preparation: 3 hours

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 kg lamb cut into 2 – 3 cm cubes

1 big onion, sliced

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon grated/crushed fresh ginger

1 tablespoon tomato paste

chopped fresh chilies (I used four chilies, since they were not very hot)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons powdered cinnamon (the recipe calls for 1 cinnamon stick)

2 teaspoons crushed black peppercorns (the recipe calls for whole peppercorns)

2 teaspoons ground cloves (or whole 7-8 cloves as in the original recipe)

1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric

1 tablespoon powdered coriander

1 teaspoon chili powder (or more)


(chopped fresh coriander leaves)

Fry the cumin seeds in oil for one minute.

Add the onion and brown it a bit.

Add the meat, the fresh chillies, the garlic and the ginger.

Let it fry for a couple of minutes, stirring.

Add the chili powder, the turmeric, the powdered coriander and the salt and stir well.

Finally, when the meat starts to brown,  add the remaining ingredients and 500 ml water.

Cover and let it simmer until the meat is tender (the recipe says 30-35 minutes, but my meat became tender only after 3 hours). Add water if necessary.

Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander.