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Sunday, 1 June 2014

Modernising Old Recipes - Cauliflower-stuffed Leg of lamb With A Side of Cauliflower & Pine Nut Salsa

Cauliflower-stuffed Stuffed Leg of Lamb 

When it comes to classic recipes, while most people love the flavours, a lot feel bored with serving them thinking they are not elegant enough and therefore not exactly impressive. Understandably, the modern table requires a bit more imagination and the look of classic foods sometimes does not fit the occasion, especially if we are going with an overall fancier look and feel. So, when I developed this recipe, I had that notion in mind, and wanted to give you a recipe that keeps the original flavours of a classic and best loved dish, but upgraded to the modern style. Because some recipes are just too good to become forgotten!

I have drawn inspiration from the traditional Palestinian dish Yakhnet Zahra (stew of cauliflower) which classically is cooked with lamb pieces on the bone and all cooked in lamb broth then served with rice and a squeeze of lemon. While the communal look of the classic dish is fine for everyday cooking, when it comes to entertaining, you would want the food to look a tad more elegant on the table. Therefore, I had changed the whole look and experience of serving this dish, but kept the integrity of the classic dish's flavour and textures, because I wanted everyone to know the dish from the flavours, yet feel like it was completely new and worthy of serving on a modern table.

When it comes to modern cooking, today we are much better informed about food and its health effects. A modern recipe has to take this knowledge into account and therefore I have also adapted this dish to the modern healthier eating requirements. So instead of frying the cauliflower, I went for roasting in minimal amounts of olive oil for flavour. I had trimmed all excess fats from the leg of lamb and had roasted it covered, in a pan half-filled with broth to ensure it does not dry. The result is absolutely succulent, melt in your mouth tender meat, full on flavour and in no way compromising your health. Furthermore, instead of serving this dish with the traditional white rice - which we all know as a complex carb has its adverse effects, and with the massive rise in the number of diabetic patients in this region - I had chosen to serve it with an equally delicious side, with textures that will simulate the rice experience, however healthier for us. So I serve this dish with a side of cauliflower and pine nut salsa. Basically the same filling I am using for the stuffing, but with a tad more pine nuts and an acidic dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, which enhance the flavour of the cauliflower and are true to the original squeeze of lemon in the classic serving.

I had cooked this recipe on multiple occasions, every time without fail, this recipe impressed everyone, raised many eyebrows in good surprise and became the talk of the occasion. It does taste very good and no one could ever stop eating. Am telling you this, because I really want to encourage you to give it a try, and you will see how you too are going to love it.

Saying is not like seeing, so here are the pics of our producer stealing bites during the shoot of the recipe videos!!! We kept on telling him off because we needed to photograph the dish for you to see, but he kept sneaking back for another bite!!! lol

Hermann the producer stealing bites of the dish during the shoot of the recipe video for
cauliflower-stuffed leg of lamb

Hermann the producer experiencing a moment of bliss after sneaking a few bites and right before being told off again!!
during the shoot of the recipe video for cauliflower-stuffed leg of lamb

Cauliflower-stuffed Leg of lamb 
With A Side of Cauliflower & Pine Nut Salsa
serves 4
You Need
For the leg of lamb
1 whole thigh of lamb, deboned but left whole
1 litre lamb or chicken broth
4 cloves garlic quartered, lengthways
Black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp olive oil

For Salset Zahra Mashwyeh1 head cauliflower, cut into very small flowerets
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp cumin powder
black pepper to taste
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup lemon juice

Start by rubbing the thigh of lamb, inside and out with the olive oil, then season with black pepper. Score the thigh all over with a sharp knife creating small incisions and fill each with a garlic piece. Sprinkle freshly cracked black pepper all over and refrigerate until ready to use. 

Cut the cauliflower into small flowerets and wash well. Place the flowerets, reserving 1 cup, over a baking sheet and sprinkle with the olive oil, black pepper, garlic and cumin powder. Roast in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden, making sure to turn twice throughout. 

Meanwhile, boil, covered for 15 minutes, the reserved 1 cup cauliflower and the cauliflower stem along with the chopped onion in the broth. Then drain reserving only the liquid. Set aside until ready to use. 

Once the cauliflower is finished roasting, remove from the oven and place into a large bowl. Top with lemon juice, lemon rind and toasted pine nuts and mix to coat all. 

Spread out the thigh of lamb and place as much cauliflower filling as possible in the centre, then roll the thigh and secure with kitchen string (see the method in the video below). Sprinkle some olive at the bottom of a deep roasting tin; place the rolled meat in the tin and sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper. Add the cauliflower broth, cinnamon stick and bay leaf then cover and roast in a hot oven for 1 ¼ hours, then reduce the heat to medium and continue roasting for 1 hour. 

Once done, remove the cover and broil to brown. 

To Serve, carefully remove the lamb from the roasting tin and remove the kitchen string. 

Place the meat over a large dish. Place the roasting liquids in a sauce boat and serve next to the lamb along with the cauliflower salsa  (the remaining cauliflower filling dressed with olive oil and lemon juice).
Sprinkle all with chopped parsley and toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately with a side of yogurt and a tangy salad of mixed leaves.