Braised Shoulder of Lamb with Mediterranean Couscous

A version of this dish often makes an appearance on our Sunday lunch menu or I have it as an element on the tasting plate of Irish lamb. I just love to showcase the versatility of lamb. Make sure you ask your loval butcher to trim, bone and roll the shoulder for you so that you end up with a nice shape for presentation.

Ingredients


  • 3 tblsp rapeseed oil
  • 675 g (1 1/2lb) boned lamb shoulder, rolled and tied at intervals with string
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1.20 l (2 pints) beef stock
  • 600 ml (1 pint) red wine
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tblsp tomato purée
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tblsp madeira
  • 1 tblsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • knob of butter
  • mediterranean couscous, to serve
  • oven-dried cherry tomatoes, to garnish
  • caramelised baby onions, to garnish
  • red pepper gel, to garnish
  • fresh micro coriander, to garnish

Mediterranean couscous
  • 1 tblsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small courgette, trimmed and finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, roasted, cored and finely diced
  • 150 ml (1/4 pint) tomato juice
  • 1 tblsp tomato purée
  • dash of balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tblsp chopped fresh basil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 400 ml (14fl oz) vegetable stock
  • finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 175 g (6oz) couscous
  • 2 tblsp lemon oil (shop bought)
  • 4 tblsp toasted pine nuts
  • 4 tblsp chopped fresh mixed herbs (such as mint, coriander and flat-leaf parsley)

Oven-dried cherry tomatoes (20)
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 tblsp olive oil
  • good pinch chopped fresh thyme
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Red pepper purée
  • 1 tblsp rapeseed oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3 large red peppers, cored and chopped
  • 2 tsp red vine vinegar
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mango gel
  • 5 g agar agar
  • 500 ml (18fl oz) mango coulis (shop bought)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F/gas mark 3).
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the lamb shoulder and brown all over for 6–8 minutes, turning regularly with tongs. Add the carrots, celery, leek, onion and garlic and cook for another 10 minutes, until the vegetables are golden brown.
  3. Place the lamb and vegetables in a large, deep roasting tin. Cover with the stock, red wine, herbs and tomato purée. Season to taste, then cover with foil and cook in the oven for 3 hours, until the lamb is really tender. Leave to cool completely and rest in the juices.
  4. Once it has cooled, remove the lamb from the pan. Strain the juices into a clean bowl and discard the vegetables. Cover the juices and keep in the fridge until needed. Cut off the string, then tightly roll the lamb in a double layer of tin foil to create a firm sausage shape. When cold, place in the fridge overnight to firm up.
  5. Place the reserved braising juices in a pan and add in the Madeira, vinegar and sugar. Bring to the boil and cook for 25–30 minutes, until reduced by half to a sauce consistency. Season to taste and keep warm.
  6. When ready to serve, remove the tin foil from the lamb cylinder and trim off the ends, then carve into 4 x 5cm (2in) slices. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil and the knob of butter. Once the butter stops sizzling, add the lamb pieces and cook for 2–3 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden brown and nicely warmed through.
  7. To serve, spoon the Mediterranean couscous onto each warmed plate using a 9cm (3 3/4in) cooking ring. Place the crispy braised lamb on top and spoon over the braising jus. Garnish each plate with the oven-dried cherry tomatoes, caramelised baby onions, red pepper gel and micro coriander.
For the couscous
  1. Heat the rapeseed oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the red onion, courgette and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add in the red pepper and cook for 1 minute more, stirring. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the tomato juice, purée, vinegar and sugar and cook for 5–6 minutes, then add the basil and season to taste. Keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil and add in the lemon juice, then season to taste. Keep warm.
  3. Toast the couscous on a dry pan for 2–3 minutes, until golden brown, tossing constantly and being careful not to let it burn. Transfer to a large bowl and add in the lemon oil and rind and mix well to combine. Pour in the hot stock, then cover with clingfilm and leave to sit until all the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Just before serving, stir in the warm vegetable mixture along with the pine nuts and herbs. Mix well to combine and season to taste – you should have about 900g (2lb) in total. Use as required.
  5. To cook this ahead, the couscous and vegetable mixture can be prepared and kept separately in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat the couscous in a pan over a gentle heat, fluffing up the grains with a fork. Place the vegetable mixture in a separate pan and allow to warm through, then stir into the couscous with the pine nuts and herbs to serve.
For the cherry tomatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 100°C (200°F/gas mark 1/4).
  2. Arrange the cherry tomato halves cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle over the olive oil, scatter the thyme on top and season to taste. Place in the middle of the oven for 4–5 hours, checking every hour to ensure the tomatoes at the edge aren’t overcooking. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and leave to cool, then use as required.
  3. These tomatoes can be kept covered with olive oil in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Drain and bring back to room temperature to use.
Red pepper purée
  1. Heat the rapeseed oil in a pan over a medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until softened but not coloured.
  2. Tip in the red peppers with the vinegar, tomato purée and sugar. Season to taste and simmer for 20–25 minutes, until the peppers are completely tender.
  3. Remove the red pepper mixture from the heat and leave to cool completely, then place in a Thermomix (see page 273 for details) or a blender. Blitz to a smooth purée texture, then pass through a fine sieve into a bowl
For the mango gel
  1. Place the agar agar in a pan with the mango coulis and blitz until smooth with a hand blender.
  2. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and leave to set in the fridge for 20 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and blend again until smooth. Place in a squeezy bottle and use as required.
  3. For a red pepper variation, replace the mango coulis with 300g (11oz) of red pepper purée.

Notes:

This whole dish can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. The shoulder is best cooked at least the day before so that it can be rolled really tight to give the joint a good shape.

For a wine match, try a Côtes du Rhône from Rasteau or Gigondas, or a Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine from Bordeaux.





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