Lebanese Leg of Lamb
A leg of lamb can be a thing of absolute beauty: sweet and tender meat, in this case offset by the sharp tang of spice; Mona Farrugia experiments with Lebabon's culinary legacy.
I know that I have found a good food outlet when:
1. I want to buy everything in sight even if I do not have space to store it, cupboard or stomach
2. It inspires me to find new flavour combinations
I don't know about you but this happens in 99% of the cases when I visit Zammeats at Arkadia in St. Julians. Their Millers of Speyside selection is amazing. Local lamb can be a little threadbare on meat and New Zealand meat is purple, its fat slick. The Scottish version is just sublime.
My favourite recipe has to be the one in The Foodbook with the saltiness from anchovies and the studded garlic and local rosemary playing around with the sweetness of the meat. Nonetheless I love to experiment and the Middle East presents us with some amazing recipes with cloves, sometimes juniper, a fragrant thyme and in this case, cinnamon and allspice berries, making an appearance. The trick, though, is in the alchemy: the long, slow roasting. This lets the flavours shine through and blend slowly while the meat breaks down on the inside. What can I say? Don't overcook it. There is a reason why lamb should be served pink and it's called 'respect' to the animal and to yourself.
1 leg of lamb - usually weighing around 3 kilos, bone in.
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
The leaves from 8 stems of thyme
For the rub:
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
- 2 teaspoons of freshly crushed black pepper
- 10 allspice berries
Crush all the rub ingredients in a pestle and mortar: the sea salt will help you here.
Mix with the yoghurt and rub - use your hands! - all over the lamb. Marinade for as long as you can in the fridge but take the lamb out and let it go to room temperature before popping it into the oven
Bake the lamb at 180C fro around an hour.
Spread the thyme all over the leg, lower the heat in the oven to 150C and bake it for around 2 hours.
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