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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Roasted Olive Studded Whole Leg of Lamb With Date Saba Lamb Jus and Roasted Vegetables

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A Tray full of goodness - Roasted Olive Studded Leg of Lamb

"Dima - i think your touch in food has entered many kitchens this Ramadan creating such a fun atmosphere :)" - Samah Abu Ghazaleh's message to me as she was making her Appetisers Buffet from (previous post)

Cooking is so much fun! I have been trying to get you all to see it for yourselves - through this blog, my courses and my demonstrations. So when I hear you say that I was able to actually bring this energy into your kitchens, and have you experience the numerous rewards of cooking I cannot ever be happier! Thank you for all your sweet words, and for actually going for it this Ramadan, you truly are a super cool bunch :)

Today's post is a Roasted Leg of Lamb. Roasting is a very dear cooking method for me. I love roasts! Whatever kind of meat, the accompaniments, the flavours, the sauces... roasts always turn out succulent, and very rich in flavour. A roast that is properly cooked, is the best kind of food that can come out of any kitchen; that is my personal opinion anyway! This is not a recipe for pulled lamb, this is a recipe for medium-rare to medium lamb which will be pink on the inside. Pulled lamb is a different cooking method altogether, which I will cover in another post.

Tips for best roasting results

With that said here are some pointers to help you achieve the best results
  • The base is good quality ingredients. Any food that will turn out fabulous must start with good quality produce. Pick the freshest meats possible, the best cuts possible and follow through with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Buy a heat proof meat thermometer. I don't know why the word thermometer scares people! Every time I say it I find faces staring back at me with a certain panic! It is a very simple non-dangerous kitchen gadget that can guarantee best results, always! This is how you know that you have cooked your meat just right; not over nor under! The best meat thermometer for roasts is that which can be inserted before the cooking and can go in the oven.  (See tip below on how to use a meat thermometer for roasts)
  • Slow cooking is always best with roasts. A medium oven and time are the best ingredients for roasts. This way the meat is not forced into submission, rather eased into it. Allowing the meat to slowly release its juices, keeping it moist and tender.
  • Meat cuts on the bone always result in more tender and richer flavoured roasts. I always prefer on-the-bone cuts for roasting. 
  • Cuts on the bone do not necessarily need to be placed on a rack, They can be placed straight on the baking tray. However boneless roasts do need to be placed on a rack to allow circulation of heat and avoid burning the bottom before the rest of the piece is cooked through.
  • Always place the meat fat-side upwards.
  • The heat is almost always on medium 325F, however some cuts do require higher temperatures. Most recipes will tell you the required temperature, but if not it is safe to guess the above temperature. This is also why it is important to have a meat thermometer.
  • The time required to cook a roast can never be generalised. It all depends on the type of meat, the cut of meat, the size (weight of the piece), whether there is bone or without...etc. (see the chart below for guidelines on roasting whole on-the-bone leg of lamb )
  • The method of roasting does not require covering the meat while in the oven, that is a different method that relies on the build up of steam. You also do not need to add water or liquids to your roasts, also another cooking method, which I will dedicate a post for. Roasts are uncovered, dry cooked meats, where we rely on the meats juices and fats for moistness.
  • Remove the roast 5 degrees lower than the desired final doneness. Residual cooking will raise the temperature to the proper degree.
  • Roasts must rest at room temperature after done for at least 15 minutes. This will release the extra juices instead of bleeding on the serving plate. The roast continues to cook through this time due to residual heat.

Roasting Whole leg of Lamb Chart - for both medium rare and medium doneness
If you want very well done although not advisable add 15 minutes to the medium doneness overall time

How to use a heat-proof (go in the oven) meat thermometer
Once your meat is ready to go in the oven, insert the thermometer. Insert it at least 2 inches into the centre of the largest muscle. Do not let the thermometer touch the bone, the fat or the roasting tray, as these do not give accurate readings of the meat's doneness. This thermometer can remain in the meat throughout the roasting. Once the thermometer registers the desired temperature, push it in a little further, if the temperature changes registering lower degrees, continue cooking the meat until the thermometer reads the right temperature. If the temperature remains the same, then your meat is done and ready to remove from the oven.

If you have an instant read thermometer, then check the temperature 1/2 an hour before the time is up. Then check every 10 minutes to ensure proper doneness.

Let's do this, let's roast some amazing lamb....

Plated Roasted Leg of Lamb

Ramadan Recipe 18
Roasted olive-studded whole leg of lamb with 
Date Saba infused jus and roasted vegetables
Serves 4
You can serve roasted leg of lamb plated as in the picture above, or you can simply place the rested meat on a large platter and carve at the table. 
For a variation to the recipe you can stud the lamb with rosemary springs and garlic instead of olives. If Date Saba is not available substitute Balsamic Vinegar mixed with a small quantity of date puree.

Vegetables mixed with Date Saba mixture
ready for roasting
You Need
For the leg of lamb
1 (4Kg) whole leg of lamb with bone
1 head garlic, peeled
100g black Kalamata olives, pitted
Coarse Salt & Black pepper to taste
1 tbsp Olive oil

For the Roasted Vegetables
2 Celery Stalks, Roughly sliced
3 medium red onions, peeled and quartered
1 large brown onion, roughly sliced
4 large carrots, roughly sliced
150g balck Kalamata olives, pitted
4 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
Date Saba mixture (below)

For Date Saba Mixture
1/4 cup Date Saba 
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt & black pepper
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

For Lamb Jus
Roasting Pan Drippings
70g Butter, cut into cubes

Preheat your oven to 325F.

Start by preparing the meat. Using a sharp small knife, make a some incisions all over the meat. Alternately fill the incisions with garlic cloves and olives. Rub the meat with olive oil all over. Sprinkle with coarse salt & Black pepper.

Make incisions and fill them with olives and garlic. 

Heat your skillet, and brown slightly on both sides.
Place in the centre of a baking tray and put in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Boil your chopped potatoes for 5 minutes, just to get them ready for cooking. Drain and set aside on a large bowl.

Date Saba Mixture

Meanwhile, place the date saba, and the brown sugar, salt and black pepper in a bowl and mix well to combine. Drizzle the olive oil slowly while continuously whisking to encorporate. Whisk vigorously to achieve a thick paste consistency.

Mix the rest of the chopped vegetables and remaining garlic cloves and olives with the prepared potatoes add the date saba mixture and toss to coat. Remove the lamb from the oven and add all the coated vegetables, to the sides of the lamb and return to the oven. Roast for 2 1/4 hours (or until the temperature registers 140F for medium-rare or 155F for medium). Turn the vegetables 3 times throughout.

Place the roasted vegetables in a separate dish

rest the roasted meat for
15 minutes before serving
or carving

Remove from the oven, place the leg of lamb in a sides dish, cover with foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Place the roasted vegetables in a separate dish. 

Finish the lamb Jus: Pour the roasting juices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the jus reduces a little bit. Add the butter gradually whisking after each addition to combine. Place in a pouring jug and serve next to the lamb and roasted vegetables.

For a casual presentation, just place the roasted leg of lamb on a large wooden chopping board or platter, surrounded by the roasted vegetables. Or you can serve the roasted vegetables in a separate platter. Place all with the jug of jus at the your dinner table and carve as you serve. 
Otherwise you can plate your carved pieces of lamb along with the vegetables and drizzle with the jus as in the picture below. You can leave the piece of lamb carving whole or you can slice it. 
Devour and let the goodness speak for itself.

Plated Leg of lamb

Hope you liked today's post and found all the roasting information and tips useful. I trust that with this post you are capable of cooking a fabulous roast leg of lamb. Remember that this is the method, but you can get very creative with the ingredients, flavourings and aromatics. Follow the guidelines for roasting and leave the rest up to your palate! In the event that any leftovers should remain, use them the next day to make a fabulous vegetable soup by mixing the jus and vegetables along with extra water in a pot, bring to a boil and blend to cream. Heat the meat and place in the creamed soup. Or you can use the meat to make a Roasted leg of lamb fatteh, same as the Fattet Djaj, except use the lamb meat instead of the chicken! You can also make a roasted leg of lamb sandwich, just place pieces of the lamb meat on some toast, together with some of the vegetables. Drizzle ever so lightly with a little lamb jus and toast these sandwiches in the Express Grill sponsored by Citruss TV. Once fully toasted just devour this absolutely delicious sandwich. How fabulous is that?!

Express Grill giveaway sponsored by Citruss TV

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Follow this link for giveaways details and how to enter the draw. Come back tomorrow for more of Dima's Kitchen Ramadan Special. Don't forget to take photos of recipes you cook from this blog, share them with me and hopefully you will win one of the 10 amazing giveaways I have in store for you :) Leave me a comment before you go, you know I like to hear from you...

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Ramadan Kareem