North London ran out of pork belly yesterday and Friday. I mean, what is the world coming to when an Islingtonian can’t get their favourite cut of meat? Yes, I am taking the piss out of myself…but when you have a recipe in your head and you can’t get the main ingredient, it’s a bit frustrating. However, I was spending the day looking after the lovely Andy Bates at a Food Network blogger event and, on a whim over a glass of Camden Town’s Pale Ale, I asked him what he would cook for dinner that night.
So after regaling me, the film crew, the digital agency and seven bloggers with two brilliant, brilliant street food recipes (I can’t make one of them, a vegetarian Scotch egg, not having a deep-fat fryer, but the sandwich is not to be missed and I’ll post the recipe at some point) he still found the energy to provide a really simple and delicious way to cook lamb and also told me what to serve with it, all of which worked a treat. What’s more, for the first time in my life I was actually ready for my guests and had done some of the washing-up, which tells you how simple, if not quick, this is. And, ha, I have leftovers so any minute now I will be enjoying this all over again. Heaven.
For three to four people you will need
(these are the amounts I used, based on a conversation not a cookery book, but there was plenty for three of us with a little left over)
Cupboard (or things you may already have):
olive oil, a couple of tablespoons
sea salt and black pepper
boneless lamb shoulder, 1.5kg
chorizo, about 200g (Andy said use either type, so I chopped up a cured version)
tin of cannellini beans
fresh spinach, 400g
tarragon, a good couple of handfuls (I used two of those pathetic supermarket bags)
1. Preheat the oven to the highest temperature possible.
2. Zest the lemon and mix the zest with the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Stab the lamb all over with a sharp knife then rub the meat with the oil and lemon. I know it seems counterproductive to put more fat on such a fatty meat but it works, honest.
3. Roast the lamb at the highest temperature for thirty minutes (you might want to de-battery your smoke alarm for this bit if, like mine, it’s anywhere near the kitchen…) then cover it with foil, lower the temperature to 130°C/110°C/gas ½ if you have it, 1 if you don’t and leave to roast for another 2½ hours. When the meat is done, remove it and leave it to rest for as long as you can whilst prepping the side dishes.
4. For the chorizo and cannellini beans, first peel and finely chop the red onion, then soften it in a large frying pan/chef’s pan in a little olive oil.
5. Chop the chorizo into small pieces and stir it into the onion.
6. Once the chorizo’s fat has started running and it’s starting to crisp on the outside a little, drain the cannellini beans and add them too. Now leave the lot to cook together for about 10-15 minutes.
7. When the chorizo and beans are almost done, drain off the fat from the lamb and spoon up some of the juices underneath. Stir these into the beans and leave to cook through for a few more minutes.
8. Whilst the beans are cooking, rinse the tarragon, strip the leaves off the stalks, discard the stalks and roughly chop the leaves.
9. Once you’re ready to serve the chorizo beans, taste, season, and stir in the chopped tarragon leaves. You can prep this in advance, turn it off and reheat when you’re ready to serve.
10. For the spinach, wash and rinse the leaves thoroughly if necessary then shove them into a steamer or a saucepan with a little water and cook until wilted (usually a couple of minutes).
11. Roughly slice the lamb and serve it with the chorizo beans and spinach.