(I started writing this on Saturday 02 October 2021, but the photos could not be uploaded due to a technical hitch. This has now been fixed.)
Gone are the days when people would hunt, fish and shoot for their own food. Nevertheless the hunter-gatherer instinct is still embedded deep in our DNA. A year ago we hunted for covid-19 vaccinations and this week we are hunting for petrol.
Don’t get me started.
Would you queue for three hours to fill your car with petrol? One of my friends did just that last weekend. We came across a petrol station on the way to Kew Gardens last Sunday and thankfully were able to fill up after only 30 minutes of queueing.
It’s not as if we are filling the car up for fun. Just this week alone there were return trips to Oxford and to Luton. Dropping Junior 3 off to university along with his barang-barang (stuff) would not have been possible without a car. Luton was a teamwork-training-corporate day with around 80 colleagues coming in from around the country. The latter was Mr Gochugaru’s work, not mine. I had several school governor meetings in town for which I was grateful for the London Underground. Next week there is a pick-up from Heathrow when Niece Number 2 returns to London.
If my father were still alive he would have said This is Nuts! Then he would have gone into what we call lecture mode and warn us (again) never to take things for granted. This is of course a lesson I took to heart so I am always ready for most situations.
This morning I went early to Waitrose ahead of the weekend crowd and bought a lovely West Country shoulder of lamb. There was but one piece of lamb shoulder in the refrigerated section and only three in the fresh meat counter. Even in modern day hunting, speed is of the essence.
Back home I thought to slow-roast the lamb until dinnertime. It is actually my father’s birthday today and he would have been 81. I always purchase next year’s diary in the current year, sometime around the end of July. So I had marked his birthday last year and now he is not with us.
The lamb turned out beautifully soft and tender. My dad loved lamb, but only when I cooked it. When he was really ill and bedridden, my mother kept cheering him on by saying that I will cook lamb for him when he got better. So I think I will make an annual lamb dish to celebrate my dad’s birthday each October.
This is the perfect recipe for when you have other things to take care of in the day, as you simply place the lamb in the oven and leave it there for around six hours to slow-roast. It could not be any easier.
The shoulder of lamb before and after roasting
For the Lamb:
1 whole shoulder of lamb, around 2 – 2.5 kg in weight, skin removed (leave the fat on as it will melt in the heat)
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
small bunch of fresh rosemary
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 whole large head of garlic, sliced in half round the centre
Salt and pepper
Fresh mint and coriander leaves, to serve
How to Make:
Preheat the oven to 190°C / 170°C fan.
Place the onions at the base of a large and deep roasting tin.
Position the shoulder of lamb on top of the onions.
Using a small and sharp knife, make incisions all over the top and bottom of the lamb shoulder.
Tear off individual sprigs of rosemary stalks and stuff into half the incisions.
Slice the 8 cloves of garlic into thirds and stuff the rest of the incisions. Scatter the rest of the rosemary and garlic around the lamb.
Place the halved whole head of garlic on one side of the tin.
Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper.
Cover the roasting tin tightly with strong foil and roast for 1 hour at 190°C / 170°C.
After an hour, remove the lamb from the oven, lift the foil and add 500ml of water. Return the tin to the oven.
Reduce the temperature to 180°C / 160°C fan and continue to roast for a further 4 hours. Check if you need to add more water after 2 hours. This is to prevent the onion and lamb juices from burning.
After the lamb has been roasting for a full 5 hours, remove the foil and roast for a final 1 – 1½ hours. Baste the lamb every 15-20 minutes during this time. It’s quite alright if you skip this (as I did) but I was in the kitchen at the time preparing other vegetables and was keeping an eye on it.
The lamb is ready when it is browned all over and the meat is easy to pull off the bone just by using a fork.
Remove the tin from the oven. Place the lamb and roasted garlic onto a large plate to rest for around 20 minutes.
In the meantime, remove as much fat as you can from the tin. Scrape the remaining onions and lamb juices from the tin into a small sauce pot. Add some water and stir until you get a gravy.
Pull the meat off the bone and place in a serving bowl with the roasted garlic cloves. Moisten with a little of the gravy. Sprinkle over the chopped mint and coriander leaves.
The lamb off the bone and ready to serve
We had roasted potatoes, cauliflower and vegetables to accompany the lamb
At the time of writing another month has passed by since I cooked the lamb. There are four family birthdays this month (Niece Number 1, today, and then my mum, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law) and so life goes on. I am looking forward to the end of the kitchen renovation works and to having a proper working oven and kitchen again.