It’s only so much time that can be spent in a state of blissful relaxation before the mind turns to food.
On holiday breakfast tends to be a mere distraction – a hastily gobbled croissant, piece of fruit or biscotti washed down with a short, sharp coffee. Lunch provides a brief respite from the heat of the day, usually some bread and cheese with a couple of tomatoes on the side.
But dinner is where the magic happens. This is the real centrepiece of the day where effort truly pays off and the gentle preparation can be done whilst gradually slipping into a state of happy inebriation.
As such, the majority of my days were spent thinking about what to cook that evening.
Being in possession of a pizza oven, we, naturally, cooked pizza. But the giant domed edifice was still warm come the following morning: the perfect conditions to slow cook some local lamb.
After adding some more fuel we went in search of the meat and returned with two whole shoulders – almost a quarter of the beast – ready to be browned off, sat atop some freshly picked rosemary and crushed garlic and shoved into the waiting furnace, cooking slowly in a winey bath until it emerged lovingly tender and achingly delicious.
It also seemed a good time to indulge in my first ever video post so please be kind. I’m still learning.
And, yes, I really did come that close to setting my head on fire. Look carefully and you will see the innocent, yet telltale, wisp of smoke rising from my reddening forehead.
Slow cooked Lamb
Leg of lamb is fine, and if that’s your sort of thing then I’m happy for you. But shoulder is the business end, where the real flavour is. It does a bit more work, and as such should be cooked longer and slower, but the effort is worthwhile.
It’s also slightly fattier which will baste the meat from the inside keeping it juicy, rich, tasty and tender.
Two lamb shoulders, complete with neck
Two bulbs of garlic, squashed lightly under the flat of a knife
Half a lemon
Two handfuls (think bricklayer’s size rather than manicurist) of rosemary
Salt and pepper
Half a bottle of red wine
Season the lamb with salt and pepper all over and brown in a large frying pan. Layer half the rosemary and garlic in a casserole dish big enough to hold everything comfortably. Nestle the lamb on top and then deglaze the frying pan with red wine.
Put the rest of the rosemary and garlic on top of the lamb, squeeze over the lemon then pour over the wine.
Cook in a 200 year old wood burning oven for about four hours, turning and basting halfway through. Temperature? Pretty hot.
NB – Make sure you don’t get too close to the oven and singe your fringe.
If you are only in possession of a regular oven go for about 120 degrees. Serve with potatoes and maybe a token salad. Maybe.
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