Spiced Lamb with a Blanket of Herbs and Onions

This is an unusual, exciting and really delicious plate of food. The lamb is gently spiced, sweet and crispy, and its heavy blanket of greenery and red onion adds a very welcome hit of freshness. Pack it into pita breads with a quick stir-together sauce for a spectacular Eastern Mediterranean-inspired dinner.

Feeds 4

Ingredients

Half a leg or shoulder of lamb, cooked and roughly shredded (see Step 1: Cooking the Lamb, below)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp lamb fat reserved from cooking, or 1 tbsp olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup lamb stock reserved from cooking, or 1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp honey
1 very large handful of mint, chopped
1 very large handful of parsley, chopped
1 very large handful of coriander, chopped

To serve: lemony yogurt sauce (see Tip below), pita breads and a salad

Method:

Step 1: Cooking the Lamb

If starting this recipe with leftover lamb (after this slow-roasted shoulder of lamb, perhaps), all you need to do is shred the lamb into rough chunks. If you have any leftover fat or cooking liquid, great, but if not, all you need to do is replace them with olive oil and chicken stock.

If starting this recipe with raw lamb, simply place your cut of meat in an oven-proof dish. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in about a cup of water into the bottom of the dish. Cover tightly with a double layer of foil and roast for 5 – 6 hours at 300F / 150C / 130C Fan until tender and fall-apart. Alternatively you could just throw it in a slow cooker for 8 hours, but reduce the water by half. While the meat is still warm, shred into rough chunks and let cool completely. Discard any bones or wobbly bits.

Make ahead: Whether starting with leftover or fresh meat, it really takes the pressure off if the meat is cooked and shredded ahead of time, rather than on the day. Do this ahead (weeks ahead, or even months!) and keep frozen until needed, defrosting before use.

Step 2: Finishing the Lamb

Make a spice mix by combining the cinnamon, coriander, cumin, allspice, and smoked paprika. Set aside.

Add the thinly sliced red onion to a bowl and squeeze over the lemon. Season with salt and then scrunch up the onions with your hand to mix everything in. Set aside.

To a cold pan, add the lamb fat (or olive oil), minced garlic and spices. Turn the heat on to medium and fry for a minute or two until the spices are sizzling and fragrant. Add the shredded lamb and stir to coat in the garlicky spices. Add half a cup of the reserved lamb cooking liquid (or chicken stock) and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to medium-high and fry, tossing occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the lamb has turned a dark golden colour in places. Hold your nerve and keep frying until you get some lovely dark bits – this is exactly what you’re going for. If you stop cooking while the lamb is still wet and soft it won’t be nearly as good.

When you’re satisfied you’ve achieved a lovely dark, crisp pan of lamb, drizzle over the honey and toss well. Immediately transfer the lamb to a platter and sprinkle over the chopped herbs – it will seem like a lot but just go with it – and finally sprinkle over the scrunched red onion. Serve with the lemony yogurt sauce, pita breads and a salad or two.

Tip: Make a quick stir-together sauce by combining equal parts full-fat Greek yogurt and smooth plain hummus. Squeeze in some lemon – enough so that it tastes really vibrant – and give everything a good stir. Keep refrigerated until needed.

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