It is often said that if you name an animal you can’t eat it. That was certainly the case with a pody lamb Bronte called Rosemary. It was years ago, but Rosemary’s memory lingers on in a beer fridge that has never entirely lost the stench of rotting guts.
Rosemary turned up her pretty purple painted toe nails (picture lamb on a matching leash at the picnic races) for not much reason except possibly the embarrassment of it all, and I was left with a poor dead little hairy thing and a distraught eight year old.
It was a drought year and the ground was rock hard, her Dad was due home three days later and it seemed reasonable to me to simply wrap the body in a pink baby blanket and put her in the (beer) fridge for a delayed burial with all the family graveside in a few days time.
What I overlooked was the effect of a decomposing animals internals on the carcass, as a chef I was used to receiving my carcasses sans guts and assumed a refrigerated animal would hold.
Bronte’s father told me recently he is still unable to drink beer and eat lamb at the same time.
Now if you can put that unappetising introduction out of your way you might like to try the lamb we cooked on the weekend.
Lamb shoulder slow roasted with Mudgee balsamic
1 bone in lamb shoulder including neck, deeply slashed ( see photo)
Roughly chopped veges – carrot, celery, onion
Fresh herbs – say bay, rosemary, thyme, parsley stalks
One or two whole bulbs of garlic
2 lemons or limes, quartered
Some combination of wine, stock and water to come up the sides about one inch
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I use Dave Cox’s Mudgee balsamic which is soft and caramely)
Salt, coarse ground black pepper, olive oil
Place all the veges, herbs and lemons in a large lidded baking dish and then place the lamb on top.
Add the combination of liquid you’re using – it doesn’t really matter which but half each stock and white wine is ideal.
Top with the lamb (note in the photo I’ve tucked the shoulder leg bone underneath to keep it moist) Drizzle the balsamic over the lamb, season generously and finish with a little olive oil.
Pop the lid on and cook at 120 degrees for six hours or at 150 for about 4 hours – or something in between is ok too. Really you just pop it on and forget it until it falls off the bone. Try to serve it pulled apart rather than carved.
I served this with parsnip mash and a salad of spinach and pomegranate. The mash is made by sauteeing the parsnips in butter and then covering with cream and cooking slowly until really soft. Puree and season.