This spice mix can be rubbed onto any type of lamb. I tried it on lamb breast (one of the cheapest cuts available – this cost £3) for this recipe, but would probably not bother with breast in the future unless feeling particularly skint – I’d go for a leg or a shoulder instead. Anyway I’ve written it up as cooked here, as it was very tasty, and is convenient when there are only two or three of you as it tends to come in a small, boned, rolled breast.
Serves two, comfortably
For the spice mix:
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 a cinnamon stick
1/2 mace (or nutmeg), grated
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp sumac
1 tsp sea salt
For the lamb
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
3 garlic cloves, crushed
40ml olive oil
700g (or thereabouts) lamb breast
50 ml red wine
2 tbsp dry sherry
1/2 fennel bulbs, fronds discarded, white bulb chopped into 8
For the vegetables
1 parsnip, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled
1/2 a celeriac, peeled
1/2 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Green beans or green salad, to serve
- First, toast the spices in a pan for a couple of minutes. Then whizz them up in a spice grinder until they are a fine powder.
- Then, add the olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice and mix well.
- Rub the marinade over the lamb, and really massage it into the fat/meat (don’t remove the string from the lamb). Leave for 2 hours at room temperature ideally, not in the fridge (unless it’s a hot day/room, in which case do put it in the fridge).
- When marinaded, heat the oven to 180C. Then heat a frying pan to hot, hot, hot. Splash in some groundnut oil and sear the lamb on all sides, until just brown.
- Then transfer the lamb to a casserole, heat it underneath, then add about 50ml red wine and the dry sherry to the bottom of the pan.
- Put it in the oven with a lid on for 30 mins.
- Take it out, check it, if it looks at all dry, add a splash of water then return for another 30 mins.
- Take it out, turn the oven down to 140C. Add the chopped fennel and a splash of water. Return to the oven with foil instead of a lid for 30 minutes, then check, and put back in without the lid for another 50 mins-an hour, checking halfway through. You want the lamb to be sitting in a couple of cm of water – the marinade will melt down to make the most delicious sauce.
- While the lamb was cooking, I did this which was pretty great (WAR AND PEACE NAMEDROP)
- 30-40 mins before the end of the lamb cooking time (bear in mind that it should rest for 10-15 mins too), start making the vegetables.
- Cut the vegetables into fat matchsticks. Toss them with the olive oil, cumin seeds and sumac then roast at 200C for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through.
- When cooked, toss the vegetables with the sherry vinegar and parsley, and some sea salt and black pepper.
- Remove the lamb from the fennel and gravy, and set aside in a warm-ish spot covered in foil and with a teatowel on top to rest for 1o-15 mins while you finish the gravy and veg.
- Put the casserole with the fennel and shawarma gravy on the hob, and bubble down. Taste it – it may need a sharpness in which case add a dash of red wine or balsamic vinegar, then add Maldon sea salt and bubble down again. It shouldn’t need too much adjustment.
- Tear the lamb apart with two forks, then put in a warm serving dish with the fennel and pour the shawarma gravy on top. Serve with the veg and some green beans and/or green salad.