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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Spanish Churro Lamb

This recipe is a bit of a beast. If you're having a BBQ, or need to feed a hungry hoard, then this wins every time. Churro lamb can be done in the oven, or butterflied and cooked over the coals, but this recipe always guarantees soft, melt-in-the-mouth and tasty lamb. The original recipe was from Jamie Oliver, but I've made my own tweaks. 

To make:
1 big leg of lamb
Lots of olive oil
2 red chilies
Dried sumac
Fresh garlic - 4 cloves
5 spring onions 
Salt & pepper

Glug a load of olive oil into a bowl, and add the garlic, finely chopped and crushed, the sliced chilies and a tablespoon or two of the sumac. Sumac is quite lemony in flavour, and is often used in Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cooking, giving this dish its unique taste. 

Add your mint (fresh or dried is fine, whatever you have - a handful will do) and a grind of fresh black pepper and some salt to taste. Remember it's a marinade, so you want it bold. Next, chop your spring onions and add them. In Spain, they only seem to do these giant super spring onions which are not quite the same, but still nice and mild so we used these instead. Stir it all up and put to one side while you attack your lamb. 

Now, if you're roasting this in the oven, you can just make some long slices across the raw meat to prepare. On the BBQ, a leg like this just wouldn't work, so I butterfly it. This means gently removing the bone, keeping one whole piece of meat which unfolds and then lies flat. You need a really sharp knife, go slowly and use the line of the bone as your guide. Be careful to keep the meat in one piece! 

My butchery skills may be a little crap, but you get the idea. Once done, lay your lamb out in a dish (or the whole leg if you're just oven baking) and smother with your marinade. Really get your hands dirty and rub the flavour into all the nooks and crannies of the meat. You can leave overnight, or an hour at least while you fire up the coals (or oven!) 

If you are roasting this, turn your oven right up to its highest setting. Preheat for 20 minutes or so until you know it's seriously hot. Then whack your leg in, uncovered, and turn the heat right down to 200 degrees (non fan) and cook for one hour. This means the meat will sear on the outside, keeping it moist inside. 
After an hour, take out the oven and cover with foil, resting for at least 30 minutes - the meat will continue to cook, but will be nice and warm and pink when you are ready to carve. Seriously perfect every time. 
Barbecuing means you (or the men) need to use judgement a little more. Flattening out the meat like this means it will cook faster, so probably about 30 - 45 minutes and it will be ready. Then leave it to rest for the half hour. This bit is important so don't skip it! It relaxes all the protein fibers, making it super succulent. 

We had a lot of people round when we made this, so we added some buffer prawns to throw on too.

Our little lemon tree is doing great this year so I managed to forage some for the food.

Cover the prawns in some olive oil, a load of chopped garlic and squeeze the lemons all over for a really simple and healthy dish. I leave the rinds in amongst the prawns to let the lemon seep in. Give them a couple of minutes on the BBQ right at the end. 

Mum also whipped up a loaf of bread (we cheat with packet mix, but shhh it's amazing and very quick!) 

A fresh feta salad with torn up basil and we were nearly ready to serve...

This dish always means very happy guests. It's great with a salad or potatoes, but also try heaping it into warmed pitta breads with tzatziki and lambs lettuce for a picnic. Wonderful.

Oh, and if you are having trouble with flames on a barbecue, here's a top tip from my Dad: sprinkle a load of table salt across the coals before you put the rack on and this will keep them at bay. Clever, eh? 

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