This is the stuff of dreams to me, and to my Moroccan landsmen. There are no holiday meals without a lamb dish: Lamb chops, lamb shanks or boneless shoulder lamb roast.
Forgive this Moroccan a passing vanity: We Sephardis/Moroccans know a thing or two about lamb. The way we most often cook lamb is either in dry heat on an outdoor grill, or braised on a stovetop, tajine-style. We apartment-dwellers have no outdoor space and no outdoor grill (quel dommage!) but lamb roast cooked tajine style appeals to me much more than oven-baked. The braising liquid yields a succulent, melt-in-your-mouth meat. And even if at slicing time I don’t end up with pristine slices, I do end up with a perfect dish so I don’t obsess about the rustic look.
Low and Slow
To make the dish low maintenance, I made it the reliable low and slow method, in a crock pot. Please do not be tempted to cook it overnight, as is done with Shabbos dishes, this is much too long a cooking time for the small lamb roasts.
No Crock pot? No problem! Cook it on a stovetop, in a heavy pot just wide enough to fit the roasts in one layer, and proceed with the recipe just as given. What else is a crockpot, but an electric low maintenance controlled-temperature stovetop pot?
Grow and Behold Butchers
I was determined to get my lamb roast fix this past Rosh Hashanah, and my search for the perfect lamb roast landed me on Grow and Behold site. The gorgeous roast will at first look expensive, that is, until you consider that it is all meat and all tenderness, with no gristle, nothing to trim and nothing to discard. Then it appears as great value for special occasions. Like the dozen long stem roses or the little black dress. I bought two 4 1/2 pound roasts for 16 people. Determined to star my lamb roast, I served no other meat and no poultry along with it, and I immensely enjoyed all the raves and the swoons. The rich and deep gravy was pure velvet. Grow and Behold, I did you proud! Of course you will adjust your sources according to where you are located.
Just try my stovetop shoulder lamb chops, and you will see what I mean!
Since this is a very festive dish, I am giving you a large recipe, but of course, no problem dividing it and using just one roast and half the amounts of each ingredient.
Please note I add no salt whatsoever in the recipe, as I never do in any of my meat or poultry recipes. In the Kashering process, Kosher butchers err on the salty side to begin with, so: No added salt! Thank you for listening!
2 shoulder lamb roasts, each weighing 4 to 4 1/2 pounds
1 bottle dry red wine (liquor stores)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Creme de Cassis (liquor stores)
4 sprigs rosemary
a dozen cloves garlic
3 tablespoons juniper berries, lightly crushed
3 tablespoons peppercorns
2 good pinches saffron threads
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
Place the roasts side by side in a crock pot set at high temperature. Pour all but last ingredient over the roast, mixing well to combine. Cover and bring to a boil. This step will take about one hour. Reduce the temperature to medium-low, and cook three hours, turning the roast over once mid-cooking.
Transfer the roasts to a cutting board. While the roasts rest, reduce the liquids, right in the crock pot, on high temperature, uncovered, until thickened. You will end up with about 2 cups liquid. Strain the liquids and discard the solids. Stir the mustard into the gravy.
Untie the roasts, and try slicing them. If they come apart and give you a hard time with slicing, (as they did me), don't worry about a thing and keep going: in the latter case, cut them in chunks rather than in slices. Pour the gravy over the meat, and serve hot. Yields 16 hearty servings.
I served my lamb roast with my Soba Noodles with Roasted Root Vegetables, but many other accompaniments will work just as beautifully: mashed potatoes, wild rice, white vegetable puree, sauteed mushrooms, roasted brussels sprouts, etc