Pot-Roasted Half-Leg of Lamb with Peppery Wasabi Cauliflower Cheese – low carb winter comfort food to warm the heart & soul

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It’s amazing how a small twist on a classic recipe can give a ‘once familiar dish’ a whole new lease of life & take it to new heights! Well this reinterpretation of cauliflower cheese is one such example.  The addition of wasabi-paste to a simple cheese-sauce completely revamps an already delicious recipe; but one that can sometimes verge on the bland and unexciting…

The hot peppery taste of wasabi goes brilliantly with lamb. It serves to cut through the richness and lift the flavour, the same reason why lamb is often served with a vinegary mint-sauce. I wouldn’t team wasabi with many roast meats; but lamb has a depth of flavour which is strong enough to carry it off. Chicken or pork would risk becoming ‘lost’ when faced with such a powerful bedfellow; but lamb is more than up to the challenge, and for this reason, I salute it!

The other strong advantage to lamb is that it’s at its best when simply left to do its own thing. You can leave it all day in a low oven and it just gets better and better! The meat becomes unctuously soft and melts off the bone at the merest suggestion of a nudge with a wooden spoon. The kitchen is also filled with the rich savoury aroma of roasting meat, which is truly mouthwatering! Amidst the cold of winter, we need food like this! Food that is filling, substantial and robust (a thing which low-carb recipes can often lack!).

Cauliflower is brilliant on a low-carb diet however. With only 1.5g net carbs per 100g, there’ll be no insulin-spiking or raise in blood-sugar levels, which makes it perfect for diabetics or those on a ketogenic-plan. It’s paleo-friendly and gluten-free, so its deliciousness and versatility can also be enjoyed by coeliacs. For this reason it’s become a firm favourite of my low-carb kitchen and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Start by seasoning your piece of lamb on all sides and sealing the meat in a mix of butter & oil on a high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Once the joint is coloured and golden on all sides, tumble in chopped onion, leeks & a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, and continue to sauté these until the vegetables turn soft to the touch with a wooden-spoon.

At this point, stop stirring the mix and allow the heat to build up. After a minute or two, deglaze the pan with a good glug of port or red wine and crumble in a stock-cube or two for background flavour. Then pour on water until the pan’s contents are ‘waist-deep’ in liquid. Add a couple of bay-leaves and some dried herbs, then transfer the pan to a slow oven (circa 140-150°c) for 3-4 hours until the meat is soft, tender and succulent. If you have concerns that the meat may dry out, place a lid on the pan and turn down the heat slightly – every cooker is different; I have an aga so there’s none of the risk of air-scorching the meat which can sometimes occur in a fan-oven.

If you take the ‘lid-on approach’, remove the lid for the final half-hour of cooking. This means that the lamb will develop a crisp, delicious crust on top – delightful in every way! When ready, remove the pan from the oven and cover with the lid or tinfoil to allow the meat to ‘rest’ for 20 minutes. This should be done for all roasted meats, which would otherwise lack that ‘melt in the mouth’ quality if eaten straight from the oven.

An hour before you’re ready to eat, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, filled to a couple of inches depth. Place in your cauliflower, then steam it through with the lid on until a knife goes in with a slight resistance. In this instance I left the cauliflower head whole, but you can equally cut this into florets if you wish to save time or want more or a ‘gratin effect’. Once cooked, drain the water from the pan and place to one side.

In a second heavy saucepan, add a cup and a half of double cream to the pan and place this onto a low heat. Grate a good whack of cheese and sprinkle a generous handful into the cream, to melt slowly. Season the sauce, then spoon a half-dessertspoonful of wasabi paste into the mix. If you prefer things a little less intense, feel free to add less; simply taste the sauce, adding the wasabi at intervals until you get to a flavour-strength that’s right for you. Leave the sauce on the hob, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until the cream has thickened to the texture of a rich custard.

Now simply ladle your sauce over the pre-cooked cauliflower and top the lot with your remaining grated cheese. Dust the top with a sprinkle of dried herbs, then into a medium oven it goes for circa 30 minutes until the surface is golden brown and bubbling.

Hey presto, your dinner is ready! Rush both lamb and cauliflower to the table and dig in with aplomb! Few dishes can be more delicious than this. If you have guests, it’s nice not to tell them about the wasabi-sauce – you can then watch their faces transform with wonder and surprise at the unexpected intensity of this wolf in sheep’s clothing!

Browse this and other recipes by picture on my pinterest page: country walks in ketosis pinterest.

Thanks for reading and bon ap!

Adam.

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