Mozarabe Spiced Butterflied Leg of Lamb

by Ray McVinne | Cuisine issue #156
Serves: 6The Spanish word that essentially means 'North African-style done by Christians'. Here, I've used North African flavours to give the lamb extra interest.

This is a delicious platter dish that’s good accompanied by potatoes, rice or couscous. It’s also a great way to cook a leg of lamb very quickly. Ideally begin the recipe the day before, to allow time to marinate the lamb.

1.5kg butterflied leg of lamb
9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed to a pastewith 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1⁄2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 large eggplant, diced 3cm
1 carrot, peeled, diced 1cm
100ml dry white wine
4 tablespoons honey
250ml beef jus
2 cups peas (thawed from frozen are fine)
1⁄2 cup torn mint leaves

Put the lamb on a clean surface, skin side down. Use a sharp knife to cut slashes across the thicker parts, cutting almost down to the skin.

Cover the lamb generously with plastic wrap to prevent small pieces flying around then use a meat mallet or rolling pin to flatten the meat to an even thickness – about 3cm-4cm. Cut the lamb in half.

Put 6 tablespoons of the oil, the garlic, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, coriander, paprika and chilli flakes in a bowl and mix well. Brush this mixture over both sides of each lamb piece. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 1 hour to marinate.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Heat a large frying pan until very hot and brown the lamb on each side. Transfer the lamb pieces to a roasting tray then put in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until cooked but still pink and juicy inside. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and rest in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the frying pan you used to brown the lamb in over moderate heat. Add the remaining oil, eggplant and carrots. Fry for 10 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables are tender and browned.

Add the wine and let it bubble for 1 minute. Add the honey and jus and bring to the boil. Add any juices from the rested lamb to the pan. Boil until slightly syrupy then add the peas and simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and season then stir in the mint leaves.

Slice the lamb thinly across the grain and arrange on a warmed serving platter. Pour the vegetable mixture over the lamb and serve with the following potatoes.

Wine - A Central Otago pinot noir.

Potatoes Roasted with Preserved Lemon & Olives
This is a version of a dish I make often – usually it includes chicken, but without the chicken it works well as a side dish. Like many good recipes, it was given to me by a friend. It is always a combination of a lot of diced preserved lemon, garlic and black olives, tossed in extra virgin olive oil – depending on what I feel like I then also add diced chicken, eggplant, kumara, potatoes, pumpkin or red capsicums.

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1kg new potatoes, halved
1 whole preserved lemon, finely diced 1cm
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leafed parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put all the ingredients, except for the parsley, in a roasting dish and mix well. The lemon is salty so don’t add salt.

Place in the oven for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, slightly shrivelled and browned. Remove from the oven, toss with the parsley and serve.

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