Pig isn’t the only meat you can pull.
Some ingredients have magical properties, the ability to change a dish completely. Like smoked paprika, a pinch of saffron, a chunk of chocolate, a sprinkling of truffle salt or a zingy preserved lemon (or two), though obviously not all at once. That’d be dinner disaster.
One of my favourite game changer ingredients is pomegranate molasses. A thick, dark tangy treacly syrup that’s made from boiling down pomegranate juice. Lucky for us we can buy the stuff ready bottled, no cooking required. It’s punchy notes work in everything from cocktails to salad dressings or as I have used here — a cooking glaze for meat.
I mixed it with ground coriander, ground cumin, fresh garlic and lemon juice for a middle eastern vibe, then massaged it all over a whole shoulder of lamb (bone in) before cooking it nice and slow.
The results give pulled pork a run for its money. A little love and time in the oven turns a thrifty lamb shoulder in to a juicy shredded delight, full of sticky, tart and sweet spiced flavour. I picked up this whole 2kg British lamb shoulder for just £13 and it would easily feed a family of four. That’s a meaty bargain I say.
The only thing you then need do is get hold of the flatbreads to eat it with. You can buy them (as I always have, having never fared well making my own) or try making these ones here (courtesy of the BBC) because this recipe works like a charm. From making to eating you’re talking under 10 minutes (light) work, resulting in fluffy, soft flatbreads perfect for wrapping around all kinds of tasty fillings.
After it’s completed its transformation and rested briefly (and you’ve resisted the temptation to scoff all the crispy edge bits) pop it on the middle of the table, pull it apart with a couple of forks, pour over some of the sticky meat glaze and dig in.
Lamb for four
- 1 x 2kg lamb shoulder, bone in
- 2 red onions, finely chopped
- 600ml lamb stock
- 4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Juice of 1 juicy lemon
- 25ml cooking oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
For 12 flatbreads
- 400g plain flour, sifted
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- Cold water for binding
- Fresh coriander, hummus and shredded cabbage to serve
- Pre heat your oven to 150°C and take the lamb out of the fridge 30 minutes before you need it.
- Mix together the molasses, cumin, coriander, lemon, garlic and the oil.
- Pierce the lamb all over with a sharp knife, going in by about 1cm with your knife tip.
- Put the lamb in a big bowl and pour half the glaze over it, massage it over and in to the meat, turning it over so you have covered all of it.
- Scatter the onions in the bottom of a roasting tin (the lamb cooks covered, so either choose a tin with a lid or a deep one you can cover with foil).
- Place the lamb on the onions, and pour the rest of the glaze over the top of it. Then pour half of the stock around the lamb (not on it) just over the base and the onions — this will help it steam and stay juicy as it cooks. Cover and cook for 3.5 hours in total.
- At the half way point, take the lamb out of the oven and carefully turn it over, then pop it back in.
- When the lamb is 20 minutes off it’s 3.5 hours cooking, it’s time to make the flatbreads. Combine all the dry flatbread ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix together. Then add little by little some cold water until you form a firm dough. Knead it briefly (a minute is enough) then break in to 12 pieces.
- Place a non stick frying pan on a high heat, scatter a work surface with plain flour and roll each one flat (2-3mm) then add the flatbread to the very hot dry pan and cook on each side for 1 minute — until you get a few air pockets and light brown char spots. Repeat rolling and frying until you’ve done all of them, then keep them under a warm towel until you need them.
- After the 3.5 hours, take the lid off the lamb and let it cook uncovered for about 15 to 30 minutes to colour the top nice and dark. Then remove and take the lamb out of the pan and pop it on a dish or board, cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes.
- While it’s resting, take the pan contents (which will be very oily and have black pieces of pomegranate molasses in) carefully drain off the oil leaving just the molasses and onion, then place the pan on the hob on a medium heat and add the remaining stock and start scraping the edges of the tray to get all the sticky deliciousness melting with the stock to create an amazing, intense gravy. It will be dark and shiny and once you’ve got everything from the edges and a smooth gravy, add the tablespoon of sugar and turn the heat down to a light simmer — letting it reduce by about half so it’s a nice sticky glaze.
- Take the rested lamb and put it in a warmed serving platter, pour over the reduced glaze and serve.