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7 Hour Lamb with Pomegranate Labna and Harissa Sauce

Pictured: 7 Hour Lamb with Pomegranate Labna and Harissa Sauce 

This recipe has done the rounds! From my work offices to friends and family, who have all passed it on further as it is so divine and so easy, and a technique for cooking lamb that all food lovers should know. Here is a special combination of flavours that I haven't come across very often and is now my favourite, let alone you achieve tender, falling off the bone, lamb.  I found this recipe in the newspaper one day many years ago by chef Andrew McConnell and is the staple recipe I pass on for all to begin with.

Whenever I see a pomegranate in season this is the first dish I think to make. It is the highlight and treat of this meal.

You can flavour the lamb however you like as long as you follow the two simple rules where the cooking style and times stay the same –

  • Covered 1 hrs at 150C, covered 5 hours at 110C, uncovered to brown for 1 more hr at 110)
  • Always have some liquid in the bottom of the dish to steam and soften the lamb – water, wine, stock etc.

You can use a smaller shoulder of lamb as long as it is on the bone – cooking times stay the same, can be a little shorter in the middle section, check as you go.

Varying flavours could be studding the lamb with garlic and rosemary, wine or stock as the liquid, and keep the flavours traditional with roast or boiled potatoes and peas. Or follow the spicy version in the harissa lamb recipe where a harissa marinade is made rather than a separate sauce, water as the liquid, and accompany with middle-eastern side dishes.

Here is the favourite to begin with -

1 shoulder of lamb on the bone, around 2.5kg

1 tsp cumin seeds, ground

2 tsp coriander seeds, ground

2tsp sea salt

Olive oil

Labna or yoghurt cheese * – can be found in most grocery stores now, or see labna recipe below to make your own which is very simple and much cheaper!

Handful mint leaves, torn

1 pomegranate, seeds removed

1 lemon, quartered

1 Spanish/red onion sliced thinly into rings

To serve-

Harissa sauce – 1 tbsp harissa mixed with 3 tbsp olive oil

Israeli couscous, cooked as per packet instructions for the number of guests

Salad (Coban Salatasi) – mix 1cm large diced ½ cucumber, 3 tomatoes, 4 radishes with fine diced 4 spring onions and 3 green long chillies. Add ¼ bunch parsley plus a handful pitted green olives – all chopped.  Toss the salad in a simple dressing of ½ lemon juiced, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, ½ cup olive oil – season with salt and pepper.

Place the lamb in a snug roasting dish, cover with oil, the spices and salt. You can prepare this the day before, allowing it to marinate for a few hours or overnight would be perfect. Cover with cling film if you do.

Preheat the oven to 150°C, add 1 cup water and cover tightly with foil – begin the roasting times –

1 hour covered at 150°C

5 hours covered at 110°C

1 hour uncovered at 110°C

Once the lamb is cool enough to handle, shred onto a large platter. Scatter the accompanying ingredients all around – the labna, mint, pomegranate seeds, onion, and lemon quarters.

Serve with the harissa sauce, Israeli couscous, and the salad

Serves 4-6 

Pictured: Pomegranate Seeds

* Labna Recipe - Suspend your favourite Greek yoghurt in a colander lined with cheese cloth or muslin wrap, over a bowl to catch the whey, covered in fridge overnight. That is as simple as it gets - labna is yoghurt with the whey drained out. Flavour with salt and garlic for this dish, you can leave plain and slightly salted if you like.