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Meliz Berg’s Six-Hour Slow-roasted Lamb Shoulder

Fragrant fall-apart lamb shoulder is drenched in a fresh mint and coriander sauce in this show-stopping dish. Serve with crispy baked potato wedges and top with pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts.

From the book

Introduction

This is one of my oldest, most popular recipes. I urge you to make it just once, and I can almost guarantee that it won’t be the only time you do so. It’s not necessarily a Cypriot recipe, but one that has definitely been influenced by the slow-cooked fırın cooking methods and fresh flavour combinations such as mint and coriander. In fact, I often make a lot more of the mint and coriander sauce as I could literally eat spoonful after spoonful of it, and it is always such a winner – as delicious drizzled over roast potatoes, as it is over the succulent pieces of lamb.

Note: For a full feast serve with Cacık (Yoghurt, Mint & Cucumber Dip) and Çıtır Çıtır Fırında Patates Kızartması (Crunchy Baked Chips) or Şehriyeli Pilav (Vermicelli Rice).

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Ingredients

1 chicken stock cube
400ml (14fl oz) boiling water
1 garlic bulb
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, thickly sliced
15g (½ oz) finely chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp clear honey
1 heaped tsp oregano
1 tsp pul biber
1 tsp sea salt flakes
2-2.5kg (4 lb 8oz - 5lb 8oz) shoulder of lamb, bone-in
¾ tsp black pepper
10g (¼ oz) finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/325°F/gas mark 3.

Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water in a heatproof jug and leave to one side.

Cut the garlic bulb in half. Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a very large, deep roasting tray and add the onions and garlic to the middle of the tray.

Add one-third of the mint leaves to a small bowl, along with one tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil, half of the pomegranate molasses, one tablespoon of honey, the oregano, pul biber and sea salt flakes, and mix together to create a thick green sauce.

Very lightly score the top of the lamb (if there is a lot of excess fat, just trim it off) and sit in the roasting tray on top of the onion and the garlic bulb halves. Pour two tablespoons of the sauce over the lamb (do not let the spoon touch the lamb or contaminate the sauce), and using clean hands, gently rub the sauce all over the lamb so that it embeds itself within the shallow cuts you made across the skin. Pour the stock over the lamb and into the roasting tray (you may need to add a little more water halfway through cooking if necessary), season with the cracked black pepper, cover the tray tightly with foil and place in the oven on the bottom shelf.

Slow-cook the lamb for around 6 hours (or a little more), basting every 2 hours, and always covering the tray tightly with the foil each time you do. Increase the heat to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4 for the last 30 minutes of cooking time. If you feel like the lamb isn’t crisping up as much as you’d like, remove the foil for the last 20 minutes.

Take the herb sauce and add the coriander leaves along with the remaining mint, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, two tablespoons of pomegranate molasses, one tablespoon of honey and all the lemon juice and red wine vinegar.

You will know the lamb is ready when the meat falls off the bone. Serve the lamb on a platter and scatter over toasted pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and the herby green sauce.

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From the book: Meliz’s Kitchen: Simple Turkish-Cypriot comfort food and fresh family feasts

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