I absolutely adore turkey, but sometimes we all feel like a change. Slow-roasted leg of lamb is a grand substitute; and every bit as splendid! If you’ve already planned & sorted your main Christmas meal, you can equally prepare this for Boxing Day or New Year’s eve; whenever you have hungry mouths to feed and feel like something that little bit special!
The joy of roast lamb is that it’s ‘at its best’ when left to slow-cook in the oven for a good few hours. The meat is mouthwateringly tender and falls off the bone at the merest suggestion of a fork. A fine crust also develops, which gives that sublimely succulent juxtaposition between unctuously soft meat & salty, crispy topside.
Because the flavour of lamb is so rich, it needs an accompaniment which can hold its own and not compete in flavour. Festive Christmas stilton is the perfect thing for this! It complements the lamb beautifully and has a depth of taste which is second to none. If you can’t get hold of stilton; any rich creamy blue-cheese will work well. But stilton has always been linked with the traditional English Christmas – I give it pride of place therefore, and make every effort to use it as much as possible!
Other than the cauliflower and accompanying vegetables, there is virtually no carbohydrate in this meal. This makes it perfect for diabetics, ketogenic-dieters and those who avoid gluten due to intolerance or preference. The cheese-sauce is a cream-reduction, so contains no flour. All you get therefore is sumptuous, rich decadence, which can be tucked into with gusto!
Start by roasting the lamb. Salt & pepper all sides then place a thick-bottomed casserole onto the hob to heat through. When the pan is good and hot, drizzle in a little oil, then sear your lamb. You want to cook this on each side, until lightly golden all over. Once done, transfer to a hot oven to continue sealing for 20 minutes.
After this time, transfer back to the hob and add roughly quartered shallots and a bay leaf. Whilst it’s still searing hot, deglaze the pan with a generous glug of port and reduce this to half its volume. The cloud of steam is worth enjoying – few things could get you more in the Christmas spirit than the scent of port and roasting meat! Pour on a cup of water, place the lid firmly on the pan and transfer to a slow oven for minimum 2 hours (I always go for 4-6 on a really low heat).
You’ll know the lamb is cooked when the meat starts to ‘give’ in response to slight pressure from a wooden spoon. The odour should be savoury and delicious, filling the house with fine festive flavour. If the lamb has not crusted sufficiently on top, turn up the oven and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes with the lid off. This will complete the browning and reduce whatever liquid remains in the pan to a thick gravy.
Meanwhile, wash and cut your cauliflower into large florets. Bring this to the boil for two minutes, then strain and tumble into a roasting dish.
As the cauliflower is coming to the boil, make your low-carb bechamel. This couldn’t be simpler. Pour a large cupful of double cream into a thick-bottomed pan and crumble in a good handful of stilton. Place on a slow simmer, adding the chopped herb of your choice (I like sage) and a healthy grind of pepper. Once the stilton has completely melted and the sauce is thick and robust, pour this over your cauliflower and then sprinkle with a little grated cheddar to brown. Into a hot oven it goes for 20 minutes until bubbling, golden and delicious on top.
During this time, steam your green vegetables then toss in a little butter. Lift your lamb onto a pre-warmed serving-platter and pile your vegetables to one side. Spoon the cauliflower cheese liberally around the plate, pouring on any sauce that remains in the roasting-tray.
The meat juices and port-reduction make a wonderful gravy to accompany the dish. You’ll find there’s nothing you need to add to this – the flavour will be deliciously deep and profound just as is!
Rush the dish to the table & serve up to the ravening hoards. You’ll probably find you don’t even need a knife to cut the lamb – a spoon will more than likely suffice as the meat falls away in chunks. Few things could be more mouthwatering than this! Just the thing for a rich Christmas feast, when all you desire is perfection!
Be sure to keep reading for more festive recipes over the coming weeks! Check out The Low Carb Christmas for details.
Enjoy this magical season and thank you for reading. Bon ap!