Things are up and down, stressful and sad, and a roast is like a project. It’s something you can dedicate a big portion of the day to and enjoy at the end. For a few hours, this is the focus. But it’s gone away when the washing up is done, which is equally ideal. Most of the projects I begin in bursts of sadness (the children’s novel, tidying my room, learning to knit) normally end up abandoned.
Not a roast, though. A roast gets seen through the end. It’s a pick me up with its feeling of accomplishment and with its juicy taste.
Roasts shouldn’t be saved for sadness, of course. Make them whenever the feeling takes you. Everyone needs to feel accomplished once in a while. Everyone sometimes needs a meal a lot more grand than the situation demands.
I could’ve just done a standard roast (there is always temptation to try and get the crispiest pork crackling ever possible), but on this occasion I was struck by inspiration. Recently, Ellabell of eatingwithmyfingers.com fame, posted a photo on instagram. Take a look and then read her whole blog because it is a beautiful, beautiful thing. There it was. Harissa roast lamb. I love harissa. Ever since I had it over some Mac and Cheese from a Camden Market street food stall a year or so ago it was has been one of my greatest food flavour loves.
Now, Ella, caught in the throes of her boyfriend’s cancer diagnosis (donate to their fundraiser here) never published a recipe for this lamb. So I kinda guessed one, with a bit of help from this recipe over at the BBC. I stole Ella’s method of cooking the lamb on top of some shallots, apricots and garlic, but also nicked the BBC method of using harissa paste. I served it with some roast sweet potato and some criminally underdone cauliflower which my housemates dutifully still consumed.
Here’s a recommended soundtrack for while you make this. A good mix of melancholy and folksy swells of hope.
- 1/2 cup harissa paste
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- A few good grinds black pepper
- A joint of lamb, of a size that will feed all you need it to*
- A few handfuls of dried apricots
- Several echalion shallots
- 5 or 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
- Preheat Oven.**
- Crush up the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, rosemary and pepper in a pestle and mortar
- To make your marinade, combine the crushed herbs and spices with the harissa paste, lemon juice, olive oil and honey and mix thoroughly.
- Scatter the apricots, garlic and shallots across the bottom of a roasting pan. Place your joint of meat on top, and with a knife put a few deep slits into the meat so the paste can penetrate.
- Rub half the marinade over the meat, and leave it for about half an hour to soak in a little.
- Pop the meat into the oven and roast for half of the appropriate amount of time**.
- Remove the meat from the oven and drizzle over the rest of the marinade, before putting it back into the oven for the rest of the time it needs.
- Remove the meat and leave it to rest for about 20 minutes so the juices can redistribute.
- Serve, with a few apricots and shallots and whatever else you fancy.
- *Mine was 1.15 kilos. The marinade in this recipe covered it once before roasting, and once during, with a little to spare. If your joint is massive you could always make a little more.
- **I don't know how much your meat weighs, or how well done you like it, so to work it out you can use this roast timer over at the BBC: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/tools/roast-timer