Meltingly tender braised lamb pairs beautifully with a side of potato-tomato-onion gratin; all you need are some gently steamed green beans or peas and dinner is ready. I’m serving these dishes as part of my New Year’s Eve dinner this year, omitting the cheese in the “gratin” and also making a slow-cooked white bean stew with kale for our vegan friends. Leftover lamb is turned into an easy Rogan Josh, a mildly spiced curry that’s perfect for a cold winter’s eve.
Braised Shoulder of Lamb in Vermouth
This “recipe” came about by accident as so many do when I had no braising liquid on hand other than water. It was delicious and I’ve been making it this way ever since. The slight sweetness of the vermouth complements the meat and partners well with peppercorns and bay leaves. Vermouth keeps in the fridge for months at a time and is perfect for when a cup or two of white wine is called for in a recipe. You will need:
• Shoulder of lamb, 4lbs
• Olive oil
• White vermouth, 2 cups (Noilly Pratt if you can find it, or Martini brand)
• Black peppercorns
• Bay leaves
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and brown the lamb well on all sides; transfer to a Dutch oven or roasting pan just large enough to hold it. Pour in the vermouth and add a tablespoon of black peppercorns and 2 large bay leaves. Cover and bake for 3 hours or longer until the meat is soft to the touch and fully cooked.
Carefully remove the lamb to a chopping board and remove the string. The meat will be so tender at this point that you can almost shred it to serve it.
Remove as much fat as possible from the juices left in the pot and ladle over the lamb.
Cover and refrigerate leftover lamb for up to 3 days.
Tomatoes, onion and garlic add flavour to this potato dish; cheese is optional (I did not use it when I made it). It is adapted from a recipe for Tortino di Patate (Potato Gratin) from a lovely little cookbook called Rustic Italian Cooking by Kathleen Sloan. You will need:
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Yukon Gold potatoes, 4 lbs
• Sweet VIdalia onions, 2
• Grape tomatoes, 1 pint
• Garlic cloves, 3
• Dried oregano, 1 tablespoon
• Pecorino-Romano cheese, freshly grated, 1 cup (optional)
Firstly a bit of prep: peel the potatoes then slice thinly crosswise; peel and thinly slice the onions, halve or quarter the grape tomatoes, peel and finely chop the garlic.
In a large mixing bowl, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the potatoes, onions, tomatoes, garlic and oregano, 1 teaspoon of sea salt and ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Add in half a cup of Pecorino Romano if using. Use your very clean hands to combine well.
Transfer the potato mixture to a baking dish, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining Pecorino Romano if using.
Cover dish with foil, bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
Leftover gratin is delicious as a filling in an omelet or quiche, or add it to the Lamb Rogan Josh (see below).
Lamb Rogan Josh
Depending on your source this is either a dish of Persian or Indian origin of curried meat in a rich, aromatic, tomato-based sauce. You will need:
• Olive oil
• Onion, peeled and chopped
• Rogan Josh sauce, 1 can (I used Patak’s brand)
• Leftover lamb, about 1 lb
• Leftover Potato-Tomato Gratin (optional)
• Cooked white rice
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or shallow pot and sauté the onion gently until golden (not brown), about 10 minutes.
Then simply pour in the Rogan Josh sauce, add the lamb (and about a cup of potato-tomato “gratin” if using), ¼ cup of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 15 minutes to allow the meat to heat through and the flavours to meld.
Serve hot over cooked white rice; basmati is traditional but regular converted white rice is good too.