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Moorish shoulder of lamb, saffron rice, swiss chard with garlic, and yoghurt sauce

So, with it being Easter this weekend (how’d that happen?) I thought I should share a recipe that may be of use to people, like us, who will be entertaining relatives. We actually ate this last weekend, but it would make a super Easter Sunday meal. Shoulder of lamb (courtesy of wonderful local butcher Pimlotts) is one of my absolute favourite cuts of meat. It’s inexpensive, and makes for very easy cooking, as it requires a long, slow roast and, to be honest, little else. A flavoursome piece of meat like this would be divine without anything but some salt and simple potatoes to serve, but the Moorish marinade used here is wonderfully easy and so tasty. Great if you fancy something a little bit different. To serve alongside I wouldn’t go down the normal Sunday roast route, instead it suits side dishes from that part of the world. The part of the world I am referring to is southern Spain, but the influence is specifically Moroccan, Moorish to be exact. I have posted other Moorish dishes on here. We cook in this style a lot, and it is 100% down to the discovery of Sam and Sam Clark’s Moro cookbook some years ago. The recipes below are our own recipes (with the exception of the rice which is directly from the book, only slightly adapted) but they wouldn’t exist without Moro. Several books and two visits to the restaurant later, both Adam and I are huge fans.

Adam took charge of the meat here, I won’t lie and say I did. He gets a bit grumpy if I take over all of the cooking all of the time, as I am doing lately. But despite me not making the main bit, I still wanted to share it with you. I apologise for the lack of specific information with regard to amounts/weight where the meat (and yoghurt sauce) is concerned. When Adam is involved it’s, well, how can I say this, sometimes a bit hard to control the situation. And there was some wine involved. There was lots of me saying things like “how much did you put in there… what was that… WRITE IT DOWN!” Etc etc. Still, this is a recipe where exact amounts don’t really matter. So…

To feed 4-6, depending on the size of your shoulder:
Half a shoulder of lamb
1 tablespoon cumin seed, freshly ground
1 tablespoon of coriander seed, freshly ground
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
1 bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
A glass of white wine

  • In a pestle and mortar, grind the cumin and coriander. Place to one side. 
  • Pound the garlic with salt.
  • Finely chop your coriander. 
  • Combine your paprika with ground spices, garlic, coriander. 
  • Trim off any excess fat and rub the mix it into the meat. Place the oil on after the herb and spice rub. 
  • Leave for a few hours minimum, ideally overnight. 
  • Preheat oven to 200C. 
  • Place your marinaded lamb into a roasting pan, with a glass of wine and cover with foil. 
  • Roast for 20 mins on high. Turn down to 140C and roast for a further 4 hours. Baste a few times over the roasting period. 
  • For the last half an hour, take the foil off to help reduce the sauce and develop a crust (watch for over colouring). 
  • Take out and rest. Carve or pull apart after resting. 
  • Transfer the sauce into a dish then lift out as much as the fat as you can. Reduce the sauce in a pan for 10 minutes or so. 

To make the saffron rice (this is adapted from Moro)
80g butter
1 cinnamon stick
7 cardamom pods, cracked
3 whole peppercorns
200g basmati rice, washed and soaked in salted water for 3 hours
1 pinch of saffron threads, infused in 4 tablespoons for boiling water for 20 minutes

  • Wash and soak the rice. If for some reason you don’t soak the rice then you’ll need a little more water and time than stated. 
  • Melt your butter and add cinnamon stick, cracked cardamom pods, and peppercorns to pan. Leave to heat through until smell is released, about 5 minutes. 
  • Turn up heat and add rice. Coat in butter and stir for one minute. 
  • Cover with water until the liquid is about about 1cm above the rice. Place a greaseproof paper lid over the water (cut out a circle). Put a lid on pan. Bring to boil then simmer for 5 minutes. 
  • After 5 minutes, add saffron water (not the fronds, but it doesn’t matter if a few go in) to the rice and replace both lids. Cook for another 5 minutes. 
  • Fluff but don’t stir. Season to taste. Keep warm till ready to serve. 

For the sauteed chard with garlic:
Several large heads of swiss chard, stalks removed and cut into 2cm pieces, then leaves shredded
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Splash of wine

  • Take out the stalks and cut into small pieces. Then shred the leaves into similar width pieces. 
  • Heat your oil and add your garlic till it begins to gently sizzle, but not burn. Add your stalks and then a splash of wine, and let it cook gently for a few minutes on a fairly high heat. 
  • Add your leaves for a couple more minutes until cooked. You can tell when it’s done. 
  • Season to taste. Set aside in a warm dish until ready to serve. 

And for the yoghurt sauce:
Half a large pot of natural or Greek yoghurt
Splash of milk
1 clove of garlic, crushed (not chopped, you don’t want to eat bits of raw garlic)
Sprinkle of cumin
Sprinkle of paprika
Olive oil

  • We simply let down the yoghurt, about half a pot, with milk. Then mix the garlic in well. Season.
  • When ready to serve, add a pinch of paprika and cumin to the yoghurt and a drizzle of good oil. 
Serve all the dishes at the table in warm bowls, with a generous scattering of fresh parsley. And the reduced sauce alongside (not pictured). Incidentally, this was very popular with my 7 month old, whizzed up into a puree for lunch over the next two days!

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