Season’s finest April/May
With Antony Worrall Thompson
Spring has arrived and, with it, those welcome bursts of sunshine. So make an effort to take a walk each day. Just a short stroll in daylight has been found to lighten our mood and be beneficial. Another reason to cheer us all is that we can look forward to some different produce, now we’ve seen the last of the mainstream brassicas such as cabbage and brussel sprouts. Think rhubarb – such a versatile food; tasty purple sprouting broccoli; tender asparagus; crunchy spring onions and, of course, where meat is concerned, our flavoursome seasonal lamb.
Heat the oven to 200°C and place some rosemary sprigs in a large roasting dish. In a separate dish prepare some peeled garlic, baby carrots, courgettes, asparagus spears, baby aubergines and field mushrooms with some olive oil and seasoning. Mix it well, tip the oiled vegetables onto the rosemary and roast for half an hour. It's a cracking dish that goes well with roast leg of lamb.
Lamb is always welcome at my table and we often have this at Easter. Since spring is going to be a bumper bonus of bank holidays, including the royal wedding, it will go down a treat with our visitors at home and with my customers at my country pub The Greyhound, in Gallowstree Common, Oxfordshire. I’m featuring here a rustic roast lamb. It is a dish that you wouldn’t look at twice – but looks can be deceiving. It’s what is underneath that matters…
85g/3oz unsalted butter
50ml/2 fl oz olive oil salt and ground black pepper
4 onions, each cut into six
15 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
6 anchovy fillets in oil
450ml/16 fI oz white wine
6 floury potatoes, eg Maris Piper or King Edward, scrubbed and each cut into four
whole shoulder of lamb
spring greens or purple sprouting broccoli to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 140°C/gas mark 1.
2. Heat a large casserole or roasting tray on the hob with the butter and olive oil.
3. Season the lamb shoulder and brown all over in the tray over a medium heat for about 8 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add the onion, garlic, thyme and bay leaves to the pan and brown gently, stirring from time to time, for 8 minutes. Add the anchovies and wine and bring to the boil. Return the lamb to the casserole, seal tightly with a lid or foil and pop into the oven to cook for 3 hours.
4. Remove the pot from the oven and add the potatoes. Cover again and return to the oven for another 2 hours. Remove the lid, turn the heat up to 190°C/ gas mark 5 and cook for 20 minutes to crisp the lamb skin.
5. Remove the lamb from the oven and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Serve the lamb with some spring greens or broccoli, the cooking juices and potatoes.
See more from Antony at: ww.awtonline.co.uk www.awtrestaurants.com