They ate Shepherd’s Pie.
If you were here on May 16th (Home Eco), you’ll know that I was planning to drive my lamb roast further by putting some aside for a Shepherd’s Pie the next night. The roast on Monday, pie on Tuesday formula. As it turned out, enthusiasm got the better of me and I cooked the roast on Sunday night. And again on Monday night because we ate it all. Well, not quite all – I did manage to salvage a little for roast lamb sandwiches the next day, so didn’t feel like a complete spendthrift.
It’s all my friend Janetta’s fault. Last year we spent Easter with two other families at Cape Otway (just past Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road). Janetta and Andrew were on Sunday lunch duty, and impressed everyone by getting up at midday and serving an amazing roast half an hour later. The lamb had been cooking for 5 hours in a bottle of white wine (in the wine that is, not the bottle) with fresh herbs and vegetables and was absolutely delicious. When we’d finished eating we sopped up the juices with crusty bread then stared out the window at the ocean and wondered why every Sunday couldn’t be this way.
I’ve been meaning to cook Janetta’s roast ever since, but when I rang her for the recipe she told me it wasn’t her’s but her friend Janet’s. Janet in turn credited another friend, but the friend, while flattered, said Jamie Oliver deserved the praise.
I love this unwritten cook’s code: always give credit where it’s due. It’s a little like cuttings and seedlings from other people’s gardens. In my garden I have Kerrie’s mint, Stan’s dahlias, Mum’s japonica (Dad dug up some root-stock) and, amongst lots of other bits and pieces, Great Grandfather May’s Glory Vine. Everyone in my family has it in their garden. The original was planted by my father’s grandparents on their farm at Joel Joel in Victoria. The house and vine have gone now and what we have are cuttings from cuttings, but it will always be the ‘May vine’, and so it is with recipes.
Slow Cooked Lamb Roast
With thanks and full credit to Janetta, Janet, Janet’s friend and Jamie Oliver.
Large leg of lamb, 2 large onions (peeled and quartered), few rashes streaky bacon (cut into thirds), 4 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced), potatoes, carrots and parsnips (peeled and cut into pieces).
Few bay leaves and whatever other herbs you fancy (I used rosemary, thyme and a little tarragon because that’s what was in the garden).
Bottle of white wine, 3/4 wine bottle of water, olive oil, salt and black pepper.
You’ll also need a large (deep) roasting pan or baking dish.
Preheat the oven to 160C. Saute the onion, bacon and garlic in some olive oil in the dish you’ll be using. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Toss in the herbs then pour in wine and water. You can add the vegetables now too, but I waited an hour. Cover tightly with lid or foil and bake for 4 or 5 hours until tender. Check once or twice during cooking to make sure there is still liquid in the dish. Top up with a little water if necessary – there should still be liquid in the bottom of the dish when you serve it. Season to taste. To serve, take the dish to the table. The meat will just pull apart and everyone can dip chunks of crusty bread in the juices (something we would never have been allowed to do to the Sunday roast!)
Note: Janetta adds preserved lemon and juice too. I didn’t have any, but can attest to how delicious that is.
(The way Mum makes it)
1 kg potatoes for making mash, milk, butter and 1/2 cup grated cheese
1 onion and 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped), olive oil, 2 carrots and 2 sticks celery (diced), 1/2 cup beef stock plus and any leftover gravy.
About 500 gms roast lamb (very finely chopped or put through a mincer), dollop of tomato sauce and 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce.
Preheat the oven to about 180C.
Cook potatoes in salted water until tender.
Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil, add the vegetables and pour over a little stock or water and allow to soften. Add the meat and other ingredients and heat through. Transfer to casserole dish.
Mash potatoes with milk and butter, season then stir through grated cheese. Top meat with mashed potatoes and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden.