Roast lamb; my ultimate favourite, but so often overcooked. For me, meat is always far more tasty when it’s not completely overdone and getting a nice leg, or in this case half a leg, on the bone is best, it stays perfectly succulent. To be perfectly honest, cooked just right lamb barely needs improving by stacking on flavour upon flavour, but this combination works so beautifully. The lemon provides a wonderful citrus base, offset by the bite of five cloves of garlic and the fresh mint. What’s not to love?
As far as I am concerned Sundays are for nothing more than roast dinners and red wine, followed by a game of cards in the pub. I know, hard to believe I’m only 24 right! I often have my roast in the pub, I figure that if I’ll end up there later, I may as well grab a paper and do the cross word while someone else sweats over the hot stove, and washes the dishes. But, every now and again I feel it’s time to spend a Sunday at home. And that’s exactly what I did yesterday.
So I’m not going to write a huge post about how to pull together a roast with all the trimmings. I’m guessing most of you already know how to cook a roast, and if you’re one of those who haven’t mastered it yet, you’re probably not interested anyway. It’s all in the timing. Something that’s taken me ages to perfect. I can remember when I first started making roast dinners, the meat would be done before everything else, the potatoes soggy and the vegetables a little too al dente. But alas, I persevered and can say with a great sense of British pride that I am now able to cook a bloody good roast dinner.
I probably loved this as much for the taste as I did the quickness of preparing it. Anything with that much flavour that can be rustled up in minutes is a no-brainer.
In a bowl, pour out equal parts olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 60mls of each), add five chopped garlic cloves and a packed of freshly chopped mint. Give the mixture a good stir.
Using a sharp knife cut incisions into the meat at 1cm intervals; don’t cut too deep otherwise the meat will dry out. Season the meat with salt and pepper before covering with the marinade, making sure that you allow the marinade to get right into the incisions.
Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours (overnight is best). Cook when ready.
There’s something about the process of marinating meat and fish that appeals to me, although I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. It certainly isn’t the waiting. I’m a very impatient person, especially when it comes to food. But, its like this, chicken breast is great, but it’s even greater when it’s been sat in an bath of salty soy and nutty sesame oil, with a few chillies, some garlic and ginger thrown in. Oh, and a dash of fish sauce, and maybe some coriander. You get the point. Perhaps it’s the sheer simplicity of it. Yes, it takes time to sit, but it’s as simple as throwing everything together in a bowl and letting it hang out in the fridge for an hour or so, and you end up with this amazing depth of flavour that is impossible to create without letting the flavours mingle together. Take lamb for instance, delicious with mint sauce. Even more delicious marinated in red wine with garlic, rosemary and thyme then threaded onto skewers with thick wedges of red onion and barbecued to perfection. Yes I did just say barbecue in February!
Basically, it’s about taking great flavours that compliment each other and having some fun creating new recipes. Remember to season your marinade well, and taste it (before you put the raw meat in it). The consistency should be fairly thin in order to coat all of the meat, here’s a few of my ideas:
- Garlic, white wine (or olive oil), lemon and thyme – perfect for chicken
- Soy, garlic, ginger and lime – great with fish
- Garlic, red wine, rosemary and thyme –delicious with lamb or beef
- Extra virgin olive oil, chilli, garlic and basil – for perfect spicy prawns
Butter marinades are also fantastic and easy to rustle up. Place a large dollop of softened butter in a bowl, add chopped herbs, garlic, lemon zest and maybe even some chopped anchovies, season with salt and pepper and rub over your meat, cook as normal. Butter marinades work best when pushed under the skin of meats, they make the meat so tender and moist you won’t believe it.
Friday is upon us at last. And today I have a treat in-store for you, a little Greek feast that can be on the table in just 15 minutes. You’ll have everyone thinking you have slaved away for at least an hour.