Wine match

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Prep Mar­i­nate Cook Serves 15 min 1-2 days 5-6 hr 6

1.8kg bone-in lamb shoul­der, pat­ted dry and pierced all over with a skewer 350ml dry white wine

1 whole gar­lic bulb, top fifth cut off to ex­pose the cloves

6 large, mild red chill­ies, cut in half length­ways and de­seeded

6 banana shal­lots, peeled

2 cin­na­mon sticks, roughly crushed

4 aubergines, green tops trimmed

1½ tbsp roasted and salted peanuts, roughly chopped

3 spring onions, green ends very finely sliced on an an­gle

2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely cut into juli­enne strips

2 tbsp co­rian­der leaves, finely sliced 1 tbsp Chinkiang black vine­gar, or nor­mal ricewine vine­gar

For the mari­nade Flaked sea salt and black pep­per 1½ tbsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted

1 tbsp Szechuan pep­per

1¾ tsp chilli flakes 5 small gar­lic cloves, peeled

5 black gar­lic cloves 90ml soy sauce 60g soft dark brown su­gar 65ml Chinkiang black vine­gar, or nor­mal rice-wine vine­gar

This is a marvel­lous fes­tive dish – so much bet­ter than turkey – in which the juices from the spicy lamb are used to dress the aubergines, in­ject­ing them with a tremen­dous amount of flavour. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of salt in the aubergine: it mostly steams away as it cooks.

Put the lamb skin side up in a 35cm x 25cm high-sided bak­ing tray, then rub all over with a ta­ble­spoon of flaked salt and plenty of pep­per. In a spice grinder or mor­tar, blitz or grind the cumin, Szechuan pep­per and chilli to a coarse pow­der. Add both garlics and the soy sauce, and blitz or pound to a smooth paste. Tip into a bowl, stir in the su­gar and vine­gar, then mas­sage all over the lamb. Cover with cling­film and re­frig­er­ate, ideally for two days and at least overnight.

Take the lamb out of the fridge two hours be­fore you want to cook it, Bold, spicy flavours need a bright, juicy red such as an Aussie shi­raz or new-world pinot noir: Ma­hana Grav­ity Pinot Noir 2016 (£11.99 Ma­jes­tic, 14%) would be per­fect FB

so it comes up to room tem­per­a­ture. Heat the oven to 160C (140C fan)/gas 2½. Sur­round the lamb with the wine, 500ml wa­ter, the gar­lic bulb, chill­ies, shal­lots and cin­na­mon. Roast for an hour and a half, then baste the lamb and cover tightly with foil. Re­turn to the oven and roast, cov­ered, for four hours more, un­til very soft. Turn up the heat to 190C (170C fan)/gas 5, re­move the foil, baste the lamb again and roast for an­other 15 min­utes, un­til browned and slightly caramelised. Leave to cool for 10 min­utes, then skim off as much fat as pos­si­ble from the top of the cook­ing juices.

Half an hour be­fore the lamb is ready, cut the aubergines into 2cm-thick x 7cm-long ba­tons, then toss in a large bowl with two and a half ta­ble­spoons of flaked salt. Fill a large saucepan with enough wa­ter to come 3cm up the sides and bring to a boil. Put a large steamer over the pan, then lay in the aubergines and cover with the lid (or seal well with foil). Turn down the heat to medium-high and steam for 18 min­utes, un­til very soft but hold­ing their shape. Trans­fer the steamer bas­ket to the sink and leave to drain for a few min­utes.

Trans­fer the aubergines to a large bowl with the peanuts, spring onions, ginger and co­rian­der. Re­move the chill­ies and gar­lic from the lamb. Squeeze the gar­lic cloves out of their skins, and add to the aubergines with the chill­ies. Stir to­gether gen­tly, be­ing care­ful not to break up the aubergines.

Trans­fer 75ml of the lamb cook­ing juices to a small saucepan on a medium heat. Add a ta­ble­spoon of Chinkiang vine­gar and keep warm. Trans­fer the lamb, shal­lots and re­main­ing jus to a large plat­ter and ar­range the aubergine be­side it. Pour the warm jus and vine­gar on top of the aubergines, and serve.

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