Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Harissa Leg of Lamb

Well I guess if it's Tuesday, it must be Bedlam(b)! So lame right? And you'd have to be 55 or older to even get that one! I made the lamb curry last Tuesday and that's my day off to cook. I always troll for meat bargains when I shop and with $12.00 for a small pack of stewing beef and $11.00 for a small pack of hamburger meat, a boneless leg of fresh lamb at $20.00 seemed like the bargain of the century today. So not to be Tuesday lamb obsessed, I was looking for a flavour vehicle for a Harissa sauce that I wanted to try out. And my God, I'm not sorry I did. Harissa flavour is native to Northern Africa. Tunisia to be precise. And I am so fascinated with all African inspired dishes lately. And a Harissa sauce is one of those sauces that probably has a thousand variations on it, so you don't have to be precise like a French sauce where you have to nail it every single time. And you can use this on a shoulder cut as well. Just slow cook it for 7 hours to where it has the texture of pulled pork. But since I got the bargain on the leg today, we'll do it traditional roast style. But you can use this sauce as a condiment as well. Use it in place of ketchup or HP Sauce. This is flavour town baby!

So let's make the sauce first. You'll need:
6 dried chilies of any kind. I used 2 of each of Ancho, Arbol and Guajillo (Side note - This is why it pays to stock your pantry since I had these chilies in the cupboard from my Posole Rojo recipe)
1 Teaspoon of Caraway Seed
1 Teaspoon of Coriander Seed
1 Teaspoon of Cumin Seed
1/4 teaspoon of chili flakes
4 peeled garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of salt or kosher salt
2 generous tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. And more. I'll explain
That's the basic sauce and you can add some options. This is damn spicy, so you want might to add
Zest and juice of a lemon (which I did)
1 tablespoon of chopped mint or cilantro. I used mint, but cilantro would be awesome too. Or even parsley
Some sundried tomatoes or yogurt. Suit yourself. I was happy without it.

Start by hydrating your chili peppers. Cover with boiling water and let them rehydrate for 30 minutes.
Toast your spices in a dry skillet just until they give fragrance and bash them up in a mortar and pestle. Drain your chili peppers and stem and discard the seeds. (Wear gloves for this unless you thrive on danger and pain). Save the remaining water for a minute. Put your spices and peppers and garlic and salt and everything but the olive oil into a food processer and start it up. Slowly drizzle in your olive oil until you have a paste. You basically want ketchup consistency here. Thin it down with your chili water if it's too thick. Taste for salt. But you need to put this in fridge overnight, so better to taste for seasoning when you serve since the flavours will develop. Put it in a Mason Jar and cover the top with a thin layer of olive oil and refrigerate.

For the roast:
I used a boneless leg of lamb, but a shoulder of pork or lamb would be awesome too. Same technique. Rub the sauce onto the meat and cover and refrigerate overnight. If you use a shoulder of anything, place the meat in a roast pan and bake at 285 degrees F for 6 or 7 hours. Covered and with 2 cups of water in the pan. For a boneless leg, I preheated to 450 degrees and roasted for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 25-30 minutes per pound. Uncovered the whole time. Let rest for 10 minutes under tin foil before you serve it.

Just of note, you can use this sauce as a condiment. It will keep in your fridge for up to a month. Put a new layer of olive oil on it each time you use it. But you can put it on burgers or eggs or sandwiches or even if you make a hummus, throw a few spoonfuls on top. So delish! I could eat it from the jar actually. God Bless Africa and thank you for the flavour you give us! You can serve this with any side you like. But if you do the slow roasted method, it's recommended that you shred it and serve with Naan bread or lettuce to wrap it in. Enjoy friends!

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