This week it’s all about local produce (with one or two notable exceptions).
On Sunday we took a trip to Craigie’s Farm on the outskirts of Edinburgh, to have a birthday lunch for my father-in-law. The farm has been recommended to us a number of times, now that we have The Boy in tow, as a place for families. That is not to say that you won’t enjoy it if you head there on a date, though, it may be reminiscent of Alan Partridge’s romantic outing to an owl sanctuary. But it is particularly exciting with wee ones. The play park is filled with old tractors to climb on, and there are a range of animals to get acquainted with, including pigs, chickens, ponies, sheep, and goats. I’m pretty sure The Boy couldn’t have cared less (at 10 months), but it won’t be long before he’s wide-eyed and caked in mud.
The farm cafe serves local meat and veg, and on Sunday offered macaroni cheese, roast beef or gammon, and a selection of homemade cold cuts, sandwiches, soups, and hearty salads. I opted for a haggis and pork scotch egg with two filling veg salads, and my god it was good! The cafe is perched on a steep bank, overlooking the Forth in one direction and the city’s hills in the other. A perfect view of the aeroplanes dropping in to land at the airport puts another tick in the kiddy column.
We decided to get ingredients for dinner from the farm shop, and – after a pleasant exchange with the butcher – came away with a pound of award-winning jumbo pork sausages (for the week-coming), and a lovely wee bone-in leg of lamb for dinner – both from Fife’s Buffalo Farm. We also picked up a gorgeous box of farm-fresh veg, and set to planning our roast.
The lamb was simple. Dried mint, chilli, and anchovy gave the meat a salty spiced bark, which caught in the oven, to produce delicious morsels reminiscent of burnt ends. Spiced up parmentier tatties, honey and cumin roast carrots, and a cauliflower and garam masala puree with yoghurt set the roast off nicely, sat atop by a crispy nest of deep fried ribbons of leek. Each component was planned in accordance with age-old flavour combinations – drawn from years of burying my head in cookery books and programmes (and aided – on this occasion – by Niki Segnit’s superlative Flavour Thesaurus) – but together, they blew the traditional roast dinner wide open. Having said that, if you can’t be bothered with all the ingredients – I recommend doing the lamb and the leeks, and perhaps serving it on flatbreads with a bit of yoghurt and tahini.
Perusing the wine aisle of our local supermarket, I looked for a good shiraz to compliment the meat, and stand up to the spices. I figured a new world winery might deliver the punchy glass I was after. Being a food blogger (as I am now wont to call myself – for good or for bad), I have been trying to find ever-more interesting flavours and ingredients to write about.
Unfortunately, interesting does not always mean good. Instead of the Australian shiraz I knew would make the spiced lamb sing, I chose a Chinese cabernet sauvignon. That is not a typo. The wine (Moser XV from Chateau Changyu in Ningxia, China), didn’t so much dance across the palate, but rather lumbered onto it in hiking boots, spilling a bucket of raw cloves and iron filings, and refusing to leave. Luckily, I anticipated this, and tasted it early – leaving plenty of time for Cat to salvage the situation. A quick trip to our petrol station (which, luckily, has an M&S Food) later, and cat had collected the Australian bottle which, whilst clearly disgruntled at not having been chosen first time round, was ultimately forgiving, and waltzed alongside the meal.
The medium-rare lamb was beautifully tender and lamb-y – the veg truly veg-y. This dish is a real testament to local produce. Not everything local works, though, and whilst I’m less than complimentary about the Chinese wine, I’m not sure the world is ready for a Scottish cuvée, either.
- Small bone-in leg of lamb (800g-1kg)
- 2 tsp dried mint
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp Maldon sea salt
- Good glug olive/rapeseed oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 6-10 salted anchovies
- 200g potatoes peeled chopped into 1cm cubes
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 garlic cloves
- Glug olive/rapeseed oil
- Handful of chopped fresh coriander (to serve)
- 3 carrots halved lengthwise, and chopped into 1cm chunks
- Glug olive/rapeseed oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp onion seeds (Nigella seeds)
- 1 tbsp honey
- Half a cauliflower roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp Maldon
- Glug olive/rapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp yoghurt (keep aside until cauli is cooked)
- 500ml vegetable oil for frying
- 2 leeks sliced into fine ribbons
- 2 garlic cloves finely sliced
- Juice of a lemon
- Up to 24 hours before cooking poke holes in the lamb with a small sharp knife and stuff each with an anchovy. Place in a large freezer bag, mix the other ingredients (minus garlic) with the oil, and pour over the meat – massaging the flavours into the nooks and crannies. Leave in the fridge to marinade.
- Pre-heat your oven to 220C (gas 8), and remove lamb from the fridge to bring the internal temp up a little.
- Place the leeks in a sieve over a bowl and sprinkle with salt to draw out moisture. Set aside.
- Prepare the potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower by combining each with their spices, garlic and oil, and spreading out in baking trays, ready for roasting.
- Place the three whole garlic cloves in a roasting dish, and rest the lamb on top. Place on the top shelf of the oven for 20 minutes to brown.
- After 20 minutes, reduce the oven to 190C (gas 5), move the lamb to the middle shelf
and cook for a further 20-25 minutes (timings will vary depending on the size of your leg).
- Place the veg on the top shelf, and cook for 30 minutes, turning half way through.
- Whilst the roasted veg cooks, heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy pot, until it is 180C, or until a small chunk of bread dropped in browns in under a minute. Be VERY careful, especially if you are cooking on a gas hob)
- Tip the leeks onto some kitchen roll, and pat dry. Once it is at temperature, drop the leeks and garlic into the oil in small batches, fishing them out with a slotted spoon after a minute or so, and placing them on some clean dry kitchen roll to drain – sprinkling each layer with a little lemon juice.
- Once the meat has cooked for 40-45 minutes, and is around 65C in the middle (for medium rare), remove from the oven and wrap with tin foil. Set aside to rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the cauliflower from the oven, add garam masala, salt, peeled roast garlic, and yoghurt, and blitz to a puree using a stick blender.
- Remove potatoes and carrots from the oven, sprinkle potatoes with coriander, and mix carrots into the honey.