Last week I went to check out my bro’s girlfriend Georgie’s new flat and cook dinner for us and a few friends. It was a Wednesday evening, so we didn’t want something that would take ages, and the thought of this dish occurred to me during the day – I wanted to taste the rich, smoky flavours of roasted lamb, with the acidity offered by Romesco. Boned, rolled lamb shoulder is a great thing to cook in such circumstances, as when unrolled, seasoned and covered in olive oil, it can cook in 45 minutes in a hot oven, retain its moisture and emerge perfectly pink. Romesco is a Catalonian sauce based on roasted red peppers with almonds or pinenuts and vinegar – it’s one of those apocryphal recipes of which there is no original – and variations abound. Here was how I made it on this particular evening.
It is also good with grillled or barbequed white fish, and is traditionally eaten in the Spring with barbequed Calcots, a large spring onion native to Catalonia.
As much boned, rolled lamb shoulder as you need, seasoned and covered in olive oil
spices (optional – I used some ground cumin and paprika)
a few garlic cloves, skin on
½ lemon (optional)
a bunch of sprig onions
A large handful of toasted, flaked almonds (toast in a dry pan, watching they don’t burn)
2 peppers, roasted in an oven with seeds and skin removed
2 garlic cloves, roasted
1 tomato, roasted
2 spring onions, roasted until sweet
olive oil – 3-4 tablespoons
red wine vinegar – adjusted according to how much acidity wanted – at least 2 tablespoons
1 slice, stale bread torn up
salt and pepper
How I made it:
Pre-heat oven to high. Cover lamb in oil and season well. Rub in some spices if you want, e.g. ground cumin and paprika. Tuck some garlic underneath it, and place in the oven with potatoes. On a separate roasting tray, place peppers, garlic, spring onions and tomato, toss in a bit of oil, and roast until sweet and a bit charred (but not too much!).
When the sauce ingredients are roasted, remove from oven, peel and place in the blender, without the vinegar, but with all other ingredients and blend until smooth. Add red-wine vinegar gradually and season with salt gradually, until you have achieved a desired acidity and intensity – it should have a good kick, but not be overpoweringly acidic.
When lamb is cooked, after around 45 minutes – it should be pink in the middle and sizzling brown on the outside – slice it up, serve to places and spoon some of the Romesco over. A squeeze of lemon juice over the meat is a good additional seasoning.
Roasted potatoes and roasted spring onions, cooked alongside the lamb, and a green salad. Red wine essential.