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Braised Leg of Lamb with Red Wine & Ajvar

Hello friends, and Happy Easter. You will never guess what happened to me. While my oven was in self-cleaning mode, the inner glass shattered into a million pieces! Although they are coming to replace it, it still leaves me sans oven for my traditional Easter Roast Lamb. Well, plan B has gone into effect. I will braise my lamb on the stovetop, in my cast iron, dutch oven. Luckily it is large and oval-shaped. Most legs of lamb are too big for normal pots. You can ask your butcher to cut it in half and then just cook them side by side, but I had already bought mine, and my knife would never be able to cut through that bone. So, happy days, it just fit.

Changing the cooking method, I also decided to change my usual yogurt-based lamb marinade.

A few years ago, I came across an amazing jarred relish called Ajvar. I had never heard of it but decided it sounded delicious, based on the ingredients label alone. It is made using red bell peppers, eggplant, garlic, and spices, along with tomato paste and vinegar. So, I placed the lamb in a plastic bag and dumped the entire jar of ajvar in. I also added my favourite spices and half a bottle of Pinot and it has been getting all happy in my refrigerator since yesterday. Tomorrow I will dump it all in my dutch oven and cook it low and slow for about 4 hours. I won't even need to sear the meat. This recipe couldn't be easier. It will be melt in your mouth tender, and the red wine and ajvar sauce gravy will go well with my garlicky, buttery mashed potatoes. I will probably serve some garlicky sauteed mustard greens too. Unfortunately, I am publishing this recipe without a photo in the hopes you will trust me and make it. I promise you it is delicious and will make a stunning centrepiece at your Easter table tomorrow. I will post photos as soon as possible, but for now, enjoy.½ Happy Easter xoxo

Braised Leg of Lamb with Red Wine & Ajvar

1 day plus 4 hours cook time

Serves 6-8

For the lamb:

2.500 K Leg of lamb, whole or cut in half to fit the pot

350 g. Ajvar, available at most Mediterranean food shops or online

1 Whole head of garlic, peeled, separated into cloves, and left whole

1 Bunch fresh, Italian flat-leaf parsley

A few sprigs of fresh Rosemary and Thyme, to taste I use 4 each

2 tbsp. Sweet paprika

½ tbsp Ground ginger powder

1½ tbsp. Coarse sea salt

1 tbsp. Dried Herbs de Provence

1 tsp. Crushed red chili flakes, optional

½ tsp. Ground cumin, optional

1 tbsp. Tomato paste concentrate

6 bay leaves

80 ml. Red wine vinegar

1 Bottle of red wine, divided. Use a bold red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Shiraz

Day of cooking

2 Large onions peeled and quartered

100 ml. Extra virgin olive oil

1 Chicken or lamb flavoured stock cube, optional

The day before, minimum 8 hours and up to 24.

Place the leg of lamb in a large plastic trash/ bin bag, add all ingredients for the lamb, but only half the bottle of wine, reserving the rest for the day of cooking.

Seal bag, removing as much air as possible, place on a tray/ baking pan, and place in the refrigerator.

On the day of cooking. Place your pan on the stovetop, on high heat, and add olive oil.

Add onions and saute until they get a little brown golden colour.

Place lamb and marinade in pot. Add remaining red wine and 1 chicken/ lamb stock cube, if using.

Let come to the boil and then cover and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 4 hours.

When cooked, gently lift lamb on the serving dish. It will fall off the bone and that's ok. Strain sauce through a fine-mesh sieve and serve alongside lamb.


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