Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Barbecue summer

It's still August (just) and, despite all the rain last week, we are basking in glorious sunshine under clear, bright blue skies. Typical British weather! So, don’t overlook the barbie quite yet – particularly if it has a cover and can cope with the odd downpour.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been enjoying joints of meat slowly cooked on barbecues. While visiting relatives in Dorset we were treated to a butterflied leg of lamb that had been marinated overnight in red wine. This was slow-roasted in a tray, covered, on a large kettle barbecue and was beautifully tender and juicy. (You can see all the juices in the pan in the picture below and our proud host, Roy.)

A week later, inspired by this, my husband cooked a shoulder of lamb at home on our Weber kettle barbecue, again in a roasting tray. He rubbed the lamb with rosemary, salt and pepper, sprinkled over some thinly sliced garlic and poured in a couple of glasses of white wine. The lamb spent about 20 minutes in the oven (180°C) before going on to the barbie. The coals had been arranged to the side, steeply banked, to keep the temperature low and, from time to time, the meat tray was moved away from the heat so it cooked as gently as possible, and with the lid on. After about three and a half hours the lamb had a soft, yielding texture and easily came away from the bone. The meat had the most amazingly smoky, sweet flavour and melted in the mouth. (See opening picture.)

The barbecued lamb was served very simply with a potato salad that included capers and spring onions, and a refreshing green salad.

Lamb hotpot

Our shoulder of lamb went an awfully long way (£15 from The Ginger Pig in Borough Market). Initially it fed four of us and gave us enough leftovers for a hotpot a few days later. 

In a large frying pan I sweated a diced onion, adding sliced carrots and frozen peas. The leftover lamb was loosely shredded and went into the pan with the garlic any other remains from the barbecue pan. I poured over some chicken stock (water would be fine), shook in some Worcester sauce, gave everything a good stir and poured in some cornflour mixed with water. After seasoning generously with salt and pepper, the lamb and vegetable mixture was tipped into a baking dish and topped with sliced potatoes. A bit more seasoning and some flecks of butter finished things off and the hotpot went into the oven at 180°C for about 40 minutes until the potatoes were tender and had a good colour.

To drink

The wine we drank with the lamb shoulder (and hotpot) was one of several regional French wines we bought in a supermarket while on holiday. None of the bottles cost much more than 3.5 Euros and none has disappointed. I selected Buzet, from southwest France, as I love red Bordeaux with lamb: the aromatic blackcurrant fruit and fresh acidity works so well with the rich, fatty meat. Buzet is made with the same grape varieties, but has a more rustic style that was just the ticket. 

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