Green chilli, cardamom & green peppercorn-braised shoulder of lamb with minted baby potatoes & ginger peas

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Preparation info

  • For

    6-8

    when served with lots of vegetables
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

I love the differing flavours of all sheep meat, whether it be lamb, hogget or mutton. A lamb is technically from a newborn to around 12 months old. Hogget is the next stage in a sheep’s life, so long as they have fewer than two incisor teeth, and mutton are older still, from 18 months and upward so long as they’re a wether or a ewe. Sheep appear in cuisines from all around the globe, from New Zealand (where we have around 10 sheep for every person) to Greece and Turkey, India and the Middle East. The wonderful thing about sheep meat is that it has a good amount of fat, which carries the flavour, and a lovely variety of textures. Pyrenean milk-fed lamb is pale pink and extremely succulent (although a little lacking in flavour for me), Welsh salt-marsh lamb has a distinctive briny character and the weird North Ronaldsay hogget, from the Orkney Islands, is something from another world - which makes sense seeing as how these Neolithic sheep live on the beaches of the northern Isles and survive almost entirely on seaweed. This dish pays homage to India, where I’ve had some amazingly delicious lamb curries and samosas, and although I use the shoulder you can use the leg as well. The best way to serve this is to take the shoulder from the pan, strain the cooking juices into a clean pan, skim the fat off, and reduce the juices until they’re thick and tasty - and keep tasting it. Pull the meat from the bone (it should come away easily and cut it into chunks.

Ingredients

  • 1 lamb (or hogget) shoulder - around 2.2-2.8 kg in weight with bone included
  • 2 onions, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 large green chillies, split in half lengthways
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 4 stalks green peppercorns, peppercorns removed from the stalks (or 2 Tbsp brined peppercorns)
  • 2 large sprigs rosemary, pull the leaves off
  • 12 green cardamom, crushed flat with a pestle
  • 1 Tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 600 g baby potatoes
  • a handful of mint on the stalk
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 400 g baby peas (frozen work fine)
  • 1 large thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 60 g butter

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C. Using a thin sharp knife, prick the lamb all over in 20 places, piercing until you hit the bones. Lay the sliced onions, chillies and bay leaves in the bottom of a deep-sided roasting dish, lay the lamb shoulder on top and pour over 150 ml hot water. Mix the peppercorns, rosemary, cardamom and sea salt together and sprinkle this over the lamb. Lay a sheet of baking parchment on top of the lamb and then seal the dish tightly with foil. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 2½ hours. Take the foil off the dish along with the baking parchment and ladle the pan juices over the lamb and bake for another 25 minutes. At this point the lamb should be tender and you should be able to pull the meat away from the bone. Cover lightly with foil and rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

Fifteen minutes before the lamb is ready, place the potatoes in a pot with half the mint and some salt, and cover with warm water. Bring to the boil and cook until ready. Drain, discard the cooked mint, add the leaves from the remaining mint and the oil and toss together, then keep covered in a warm place.

As soon as the lamb begins its 10 minutes’ resting period, bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil and add the peas, then cook for 2 minutes. Place the ginger and butter in a pan and slowly cook until the ginger begins to sizzle. Drain the peas and add these to the butter, season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and toss it all together adding salt as needed.

To Serve

Lay chunks of the lamb on plates, spoon over some of the cooking juices and scatter the peas and potatoes on top.