The festive season is a great occasion to try out some amazingly simple and delicious traditional cooking. Lamb is not often associated with the Christmas season but the mulled wine works brilliantly with lamb and a whole leg is a great way to feed many mouths if you have plenty of visitors over for a meal. This is a slow cook and the smell of mulled wine and spices spreading through the house will soon put everyone in the festive spirit!
The recipe below combines tasty ingredients with a long soak and slow cook. A classic example of how slow, traditional food is neither a sickly nor needy patient requiring round the clock attention. Rather these age-old cooking methods are star performers in terms of results, which will razzle-dazzle all those who are lucky enough to share in the meal. I served this alongside some red cabbage and roast potatoes this week-end for G.’s father and brother.
1 leg of lamb
1 (or2) bottle(s) of mulled wine
A handful of dried apricots
A handful of dried prunes
A handful of dried figs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cumin
1 tbs. coriander seeds (crushed)
Sprinkle the lamb with the coarse salt and pepper and rub the mixture, by hand, into the meat.
Place the leg of lamb into a sizeable stewing pot and sprinkle the dried fruit around the lamb.
Pour the mulled wine over the lamb.
Add the crushed coriander seeds and other spices to the wine.
Cover and leave to rest – the longer the better. No longer than 24 hours, no less than three hours.
Occasionally, when passing through the kitchen, turn the leg around so that the top side of the lamb has a chance to soak in all the delicious flavours and to allow the acid in the wine to relax the meat.
Turn the oven on to 100 degrees centigrade and place the pot with a lid into the oven. Cook for a minimum of four hours, no longer than six.
Remove the lamb from the pot – the meat will fall of the bone. Not a scrap of meat wasted!
Cut into small pieces and place on a large plate and place in the oven until the gravy is ready.
With a hand-held blender purèe the fruit to thicken the sauce. If the gravy is still more liquid than sauce leave to simmer for five to ten minutes until it has reduced and concentrated the flavours. With a ladle pour the gravy of the meat. The rest pour into a gravy boat.