Sunday, 19 February 2012

Slow cooked lamb with thyme and garlic

I've made this now a couple of times when friends have come for sunday lunch. In the past having a couple over even with kids and our own meant really catering for 4 and a bit extra. Now the kids are growing up we are catering more often for 7, 8 or 9 and that means rethinking what to make for a sunday roast that keeps everyone happy. This meal is great- a bit of preparation the night before and it then literally cooks itself very slowly all night and morning for a perfect sunday lunch.

As with any slow cooker recipe it is best to brown your meat and vegetables before putting everything in the slow cooker since it won't brown in there. You can avoid this stage- it just makes it look better at the end.


Begin my slicing 3-4 onions and separating into rings. Heat a few tbsp of oil in a frying pan and put in the onion rings.

Add a whole bulb of garlic broken into cloves (no need to remove the skins) to the pan and gently fry everything for about 10 minutes.

 
Once they have started turning a nice golden brown add a good handful of thyme.



Give everything a good stir and then put it into your slow cooker.


Rub the lamb with a marinade made up of 1 tsp of smoked paprika and 2-3 tbsp of oil. Then brown the leg of lamb in the pan. This was just under 2 kg which is more than enough for two families with left overs. You can do half a leg if you are doing a meal for four and again have left overs.
 
Turn it frequently so that you just colour it all over. You are not actually cooking it at this point- just colouring it.



 Next put this on top of the onions in the slow cooker. And pour over 200ml red wine and 150ml lamb stock. You can adapt this to taste- more or less wine or stock, or just one or the other, or even just water. The cooking process will produce a lot of liquid so you do not need a lot.
 Put the lid on (make sure that it stays shut- the slow cooker only works if the lid has a good seal).
 Next put it onto low and that is pretty much it- leave it now for about 10 hours (yes you read that right!)











If you are wanting to have it for lunch I find the best way is to set it to come on in the middle of the night. I don't have a timer on my slow cooker so I just use a normal timer and set is appropriately. A joint of this size I would set to come on about 2-3am and then it will be ready between 12-1pm.


Then just leave it. Above is about half way through the cooking process but it is hard to see with the lid on. Don't be tempted to keep opening the cooker- each time you do this the pot loses moisture and you need to increase the cooking time by 20 minutes each time you open it. It shouldn't need anything doing to it.

If you don’t have a slow cooker then put the onions at the base of a roasting tray and then put a rack over this to put the meat on. Rub it well with some oil and then pour over the red wine and more stock (about 2 pints) since it will not create as much liquid as the slow cooker would. Pre-heat the oven to about 220 degrees and put in for about 20 minutes then reduce to 160 degrees, cover the lamb with foil and then cook for 3-4 hours.

Unfortunately I keep forgetting to get a picture once I get it out since by this point everyone is hungry biut it will literally be falling off the bone- no need to carve- you just pull it apart with forks as you can see..



The juices in the pan can be collected to make a gravy- sieve into a bowl and spoon off 1 tbsp of the fat that has collected and put it in a pan. Add 1 tbsp of flour to make a roux. Then remove the rest of the fat from the juices and pour the juices into the roux and whisk til smooth. Then add a tbsp of cranberry sauce (this is not needed if you don't like it). 

The onions, garlic and thyme are lovely having been cooked this way and are great served alongside the meat.

About an hour before I am due to serve you can cook some roast potatoes...

 ... and then half an hour before add in some brocolli and cauliflower cheese to the same oven as the potatoes. Carrots also go very well with it.
Put everything on the table and let people help themselves. They will go back for seconds. Really quite easy and the results are fantastic.

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