Why Lamb with Olives?
This is a recipe that you just have to trust me on.
This recipe will take 2 days to prepare. This may seem like a long time but really it is about 30 minutes of labour and the rest of the time the slow cooking method does all the work.
Olives add a unique depth of saltiness and flavour while the aromatics in the cooking liquid permeate beautifully throughout the meat.
The slow cooking method makes the lamb succulent and soft, and after roasting the lamb becomes the star. The meat while maintaining its moistness is golden roasted on the outside like the best parts of a Sunday roast.
Lamb neck, on the bone might look odd, but after the butcher de-bones it, it is just another old school cheap cut with a lot of collective tissue that is best cooked for a long time.
800g rolled lamb neck or 1.2kg lamb neck (ask your butcher to bone it out for you)
1 litre chicken stock
2 dried bay leaves
150g kalamata olives, pitted
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 Spanish onion, peeled and cut in half
1 carrot cut in half
2 celery stalks, cut in half
1 400g tin crushed tomatoes
Cooking twine (or undyed/bleached twine)
To tie up the lamb neck roll the lamb with the fat side out to form a tight bundle of meat, tucking any loose pieces as you go. With cooking twine tie the lamb neck.
The easiest way to do this is by cutting 3x 30cm lengths of twine and tying them around the meat in the same direction that you have rolled it. Cut 1 piece of twine 45cm long and to tie it around the open ends of the meat.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pressure cooker or heavy based pot over medium heat. Season the lamb neck with a little salt and plenty of pepper. Cook for 8 minutes of until brown and turn over. Add the halved onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, coriander seeds and olives and continue to cook for another 8 minutes.
Add the tinned tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer. Place a lid on and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook for 1 hour in a pressure cooker or 3 hours in a heavy based pot.
When cooked the lamb should by soft and flaky. Allow the meat to cool in the cooking liquid and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. Take the meat out and skim off any fat from the surface of the cooking liquid.
Carefully untie the lamb and place on a lined baking tray. Cook in the oven for 30- 40 minutes until heated through and the outside is crisp and golden.
In the meantime take out the carrot, celery and bay leaves from the cooking liquid and discard. Reduce the sauce for 30 minutes on a medium heat or until it has reduced by a third.
Slice the lamb and serve with plenty of sauce. This dish is perfect served with steamed greens and soft cooked polenta.
*Note the lamb will shrink while cooking and although serving sizes might look small the flavours are rich enough that you will only want to eat a small amount.