Cumin Slow-roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Couscous
It is hard to beat the pleasure of sharing a roast dinner, anticipating the feast as the agonizingly delicious aromas swirl around the house. Shoulder of lamb, which tends to be fatty and most people consider difficult to carve, is perfect for slow roasting. I learned to cook it in this desert style in Tunisia, although the flavours remind me of the whole roast lamb stuffed with rice I used to have delivered for parties from the Phoenicia, a wonderful but long-gone Lebanese restaurant where, coincidentally, I met Elizabeth David.
- 24 x 36 x 7 cm roasting tin, preferably non-stick
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 aubergines (800g)
- 2kg lamb shoulder
- 12 cloves of garlic
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 3 onions
- 12 shallots
- 750g small new potatoes
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 2 lemons
- 300ml red wine
- 200ml water
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 100g golden sultanas
- 175g couscous
- 450g Woodlands Dairy sheep's yoghurt
Heat the oven to 190˚C/gas mark 5. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt in water in a large bowl. Trim the aubergines and halve them lengthways. Hold the halves together and slice across into 4 pieces. Put them into the water and keep them immersed with a plate. Set them aside while you prepare everything else.
Trim any flaps of fat from the joint and make several incisions in the fleshy parts with a small sharp knife. Peel the garlic. Thinly slice 2 cloves and post the slivers into the gashes in the lamb. Finely chop 3 cloves, crush them to a paste with a pinch of salt, then stir it into 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Peel, halve and finely slice the onions. Trim off the root end of the shallots, peel and separate the sections leaving the shoot end untrimmed.Mix the remaining cloves of garlic (left whole), the onions, shallots and scrubbed or scraped potatoes in a heavy, deep, preferably non-stick, roasting tin. Add the rosemary and season liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drain the aubergine, rinse and pat dry and add it to the pan. Zest a lemon in small shirt-button-sized scraps, add to the tin and squeeze both lemons over the vegetables. Add the wine and water and splash with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Rub the joint all over with the garlicky oil and dust it with cumin, ensuring the meaty top of the joint is liberally coated. Place the joint, meaty side uppermost, on the vegetables.
Tent the tin with foil and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 150˚C/gas mark 2 and cook for a further 4 hours. Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 220˚C/gas mark 7. Scatter the sultanas, then the couscous into the juices around the joint, ensuring that every grain is immersed. Return to the oven for a further 30 to 40 minutes until the cumin is crusty and the couscous hydrated and becoming crusty at the edges of the tin.
Remove the tin from the oven and let the meat rest for 10 minutes. Serve from the tin; the meat can be carved with a spoon. Tip the yoghurt into a bowl and pass it round separately.