Didn’t they always serve roast lamb on Sundays back in the Mad Men era? This Greek-inspired lamb shoulder with an olive sauce is worth all the trouble and forward planning you might have to do.
Hades and I had a hankering for some lamb after the Greek Festival last weekend. Maybe with some olives. And eggplant. Ooo! And some of our home grown tomatoes. You know, Mediterranean flavors , but not quite so literal. And that started us thinking about all the Columbus purveyors of locally made, grown and produced deliciousness; we decided to see how local we could go. Consider this one of our first forays into the Eat Local Challenge that will be happening later this October.
We ordered our lamb shoulder from Bluescreek Farm Meats, our Cherub selected the local eggplant and garlic with a little help from Colleen at the Greener Grocer. The olives and pita were from Firdous Express, and the tomatoes and herbs were from our backyard. The shallots were from Cronus’s garden. Not local was the salt, pepper, olive oil, and butter. We’ll work on those.
You might be tempted just to enjoy the pictures and read the description, but please don’t do that! Try this out on a Sunday soon, before all this summer’s tomatoes are gone.
Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Olive Sauce served with Eggplant and Tomato Fondue
Lamb Stock – Yeah, I know. Keep reading. We made ours the day before.
1 pound of lamb bones (ask your butcher, lamb neck works well)
2 carrots (tops left on, please), scrubbed and broken in half
1 yellow onion, paper left on, quartered
Small handful of parsley and thyme, 1 bay leaf, 10 peppercorns
In a roasting pan, spread out the bones and place in a 350˚ oven for 30 to 45 minutes turning once or twice, until golden. When roasted, place bones in large pasta pot, along with the rest of the ingredients. Cover with water. Place over high heat to bring to a boil, then turn down so that the water is barely simmering. Skim regularly. Allow to gently cook for two hours. Strain through a fine mesh or cheesecloth.
Roast Lamb – Preheat Oven to 500˚
2.5 pounds bone in lamb shoulder
1 head garlic, cloves separated, but paper still on
Very large handful of fresh sage, fresh parsley and fresh thyme
Salt, pepper, olive oil
In a large, heavy, lidded roasting pan, cover the bottom of the pan with all of the garlic cloves then layer over the herbs on top of the garlic. Using a sharp knife, shallowly slice a crisscross pattern into the top of the lamb shoulder, rub liberally with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Put the lid on the pan, slide the pan in the oven and immediately reset oven temperature to 325˚. Roast for four hours. (Yes, four hours.) To serve, shred roughly off the bone with a generous ladle of olive sauce and some pita for scooping.
PK tip: keep the bones once you pull out the roast. Throw them in the freezer so you have roasted lamb bones next time you want to make stock.
Olive Sauce, inspired by Marco Pierre White
4 c. Lamb Stock
1½ c. olives from your grocery’s olive bar (pits removed, but not stuffed with feta or jalapeños, please and roughly chopped)
4 T butter
In a sauce pot, reduce the lamb stock over medium heat by 2/3 (this takes about an hour to an hour and a half). When you’re about ready to serve dinner, whisk in the butter and add the olives and warm through.
Tomato Fondue, inspired by Marco Pierre White and Escoffier
½ shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Scant ½ cup olive oil
6 to 8 large, very ripe Roma tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped (Hades insists he would never bother with skinning and deseeding, but I did, and it was worth it)
¼ bay leaf (really, Marco?), 1 sprig of thyme, salt
In a pan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sweat, without coloring, for a few minutes. Add in the tomatoes and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick paste. Remove bay, and tip mixture into a blender or food processor. Blend until the mixture is smooth. I found it actually emulsifies into an almost mayonnaise-like consistency. Add a pinch or two of salt.
1 eggplant, sliced into ½ to ¾ inch thick rounds
Olive oil, salt (preferably fleur de sel: it adds a nice texture)
In a large frying pan, cover the bottom of the pan with ½ inch of olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Prick the eggplant rounds with a fork. Place the rounds in the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides (six to eight minutes). Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. To assemble, place a slice of eggplant on a plate and cover with a generous spoonful of the tomato fondue.
Are you still there? You are? That’s great. I’m guessing you’re still reading because there’s a little tiny bit of you that wants to make this, but you read the post and said, “no way, that’s too hard. I don’t have time for that.” You have the time if you really want to. You’d be so proud of yourself. I was so proud of myself. Hades and I love cooking together. The greatness of the meal is that it highlights one of the most amazing cuisines as well as lots of different techniques. Like lifting weights, it will make you a stronger cook. And heck, it tastes great, too.
Wine: PK recommends a Greek white that Hades and I were introduced to at Gordon Ramsay’s London Bar. It’s a Moscofilero, Domaine Skouras. A white with Lamb? A white indeed.
Playlist included the lovely Rose Elinor Dougall’s debut album Without Why.