Monday, 13 October 2014

Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Boulanger Potatoes

Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Boulanger Potatoes

This one is off the scale when it comes to simplicity and deliciousness. Hold out to the end of the recipe to find out why they are called "Boulanger Potatoes".


1.6 kilo shoulder of Welsh Lamb (on the bone)
Handful of Thyme, strip off the leaves, chop finely
5 sprigs of rosemary, chop finely
4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped finely
500g of small new potatoes, skin on, quartered
Hand full of black, pitted olives
Extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped table spoon of cornflour
1 pint of strong lamb or beef stock

Cooking time: Minimum of 4 hours (best if left to cook all day) 
Serves: 6

The Cooking:

Wash your shoulder of lamb and score the fat in long, straight lines. Sprinkle, liberally with olive oil and rub it into the meat, all over. Sprinkle with the thyme, 4 out of your 5 sprigs of rosemary and garlic and season with coarse ground salt and black pepper. Cover with foil (creating as air tight a seal as possible) then put into an over, preheated to 130 degrees for a minimum of 4 hours (more if you can afford the time). Make sure you check on it every 30 minutes or so, and baste it in its own juices so it does not dry out. You want the edges to get a bit crusty though. That is one of this dishes best features.

40 minutes before you are due to serve up, par-boil your quartered new potatoes in boiling water for 10 minutes. Take your lamb out of the oven. Transfer it into a new roasting tin. Pour a table spoon of juices from the old tin over the lamb. Take another 2 table spoons of juices out of the old roasting tin, and set aside in a jug to make the gravy, and then take your par-boiled potatoes, drain them, and put them into the remaining juices and fat in the old roasting tin, with the black olives. Sprinkle with the last sprig of rosemary, finely chopped. Place both roasting tins (the one containing the lamb and the one containing potatoes and olives) uncovered, back into your oven. Turn the heat up to 210 degrees.

After 15 minutes, take out the lamb and put it to rest on your chopping board. Give the potatoes in their roasting tin a good stir so they cook evenly on both sides and don't stick. Leave them to bake for a further 15 minutes.

To make your gravy, pour your slightly cooled juices and fat that you have set aside in a jug into a saucepan and add a heaped table spoon of cornflour. Stir together with a wooden spoon over a gentle heat to create a roux (a paste). Stir for about 3 minutes, until it is both smooth and starting to darken in colour, Then little by little, start to add your stock. Replace your wooden spoon with a whisk. Stir continuously. Keep going until you have added the whole pint, then turn the heat up high, still stirring, until the gravy starts to thicken and bubble. Reduce the heat right down to minimum and let it simmer until you are ready to serve. Stir occasionally to stop a skin forming on the top.

The lamb won't need carving, you will be able to pull the meat away from the bone with a fork. Serve up with your boulanger potatoes and gravy. Best accompanied with baby carrots and petite pois peas. Gorgeous!!

And now the history lesson; why "boulanger potatoes"? At a time in France when domestic ovens were not common place, the only way you could roast meat or vegetables, was to take the food down to the local baker who would have the only oven in the village. So if you sent your potatoes down in a baking tin, covered in fat to be roasted, they became know as boulanger potatoes, as boulanger is french for baker. Feel free to bore the pants off your dinner guests with this bit of trivia every time you make them. I know I will. Cheers!