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Five lamb recipes with sweet notes

Lamb is a versatile meat – it gets along famously with mint, and it's delicious with thyme. We pick five recipes with a touch of sugar that makes lamb sing

Published: September 9, 2015
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Stefan Kolsch’s mutton leg joint with honey and coriander milk

Stefan Kolsch’s mutton leg joint with honey and coriander milk

Stefan Kolsch, head chef at Britains leading mail order and online meat supplier, Aberdeenshire-based Donald Russell, takes his mutton leg to the land of milk and honey with this Middle-Eastern flavoured dish.

Time: 4hrs 45mins
Serves: Four
Difficulty: Medium


1 mutton leg joint (approx.1.25kg)
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions (chopped)
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp coriander seeds
200ml vegetable stock
600-800 ml milk
2 tbsp honey
10g fresh coriander (chopped)


Rinse the meat under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen paper, season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil, over a high heat, in a large lidded flame-proof pan then sear the meat until browned all over.

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Add the onions, garlic, and coriander seeds to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes then de-glaze the pan with the stock and milk. Add the honey and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and cover with the lid. Allow to simmer on the hob for 4- 4½ hours turning the meat 2-3 times during cooking. If the liquid reduces too much add some more milk or stock.

Remove the meat, cover with foil and set aside to rest. Mix the sauce with a hand blender and sieve into another pan then place on the hob and reduce until the sauce thickens. To serve, arrange the meat on preheated plates and sprinkle with coriander.

Serve with couscous and aubergine.


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Scottish food writer Claire Macdonald adds a zing of pickled lemons to this hearty lamb shanks recipe, which appeared in The Scotsman back in 2012.

Time: 3-4hrs
Serves: Six
Difficulty: Hard


6 lamb shanks
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, each skinned, halved and finely sliced
1 rounded teaspoon cumin seeds, bashed in either a mortar and pestle, or in a small deep bowl with the end of a rolling pin
6 average leeks, trimmed at either end and of any outer leaves that look floppy, and the leeks sliced thinly
2 tablespoons flour
1 pint/570ml stock
2 tablespoons chopped pickled lemons these can be bought in jars, and once opened, the jars should be kept in the fridge.
1 teaspoon salt, about 20 grinds of black pepper
1lb/450g young washed spinach leaves these are added 5 minutes before serving the lamb shanks, they wilt fast in the heat of the casserole.

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Heat the olive oil in a large casserole, and brown the shanks, removing them to a warmed dish. Then fry the sliced onions, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the bashed cumin seeds and fry for a minute. Add the sliced leeks this looks a large amount but they wilt as they cook. Stir and fry for a further few minutes. Add the flour, stir well before adding the stock, the chopped pickled lemons, salt and black pepper. Stir until the liquid simmers gently, then replace the browned shanks in the casserole.

When the liquid around the shanks reaches simmering point once more, cover the casserole with its lid and cook in a low moderate heat, 300F/150C/Gas Mark 3 for 2½ hours. The meat should be falling from the bones. Cool completely.

When cold, skim any fat from the surface. You have a choice. Either carefully remove all the meat from the bones, and discard them, or leave the bones in and let your guests take the meat off. Heat the casserole, on top, until the sauce simmers gently. Cover with the lid, and cook for 20 minutes gently, and 5 minutes before serving lift the lid and push the spinach down amongst the meat and into the sauce.

Cover with the lid once more, and cook gently the spinach collapses into the rest of the contents of the casserole. Beware overcooking the spinach, because it will become grey-green and slimy not at all appealing, whereas added at the last minute, its flavour and texture is very complimentary with the lamb, cumin and chopped pickled lemons.

Serve with well mashed potatoes, and with roasted carrots and beetroot or any other roast root vegetables.


Ben Tish’s smoky BBQ pulled lamb shoulder with orange

Ben Tish’s smoky BBQ pulled lamb shoulder with orange


Acclaimed chef Ben Tish, of award-winning London restaurant Salt Yard, created this zingy barbecued lamb dish – featuring a sweet burst of orange – for Tescos Flame Academy campaign, which aimed to help the British public get the most out of their barbecues this summer. Lamb shoulder is perfect for slow cooking and pulling as you would with pork,says Ben. Here it has been given a Spanish Basque twist with a punchy smoked paprika-infused marinade. Serve hot and sticky with flatbreads and a fresh, crunchy salad. Youll need two lumps of hard wood for smoking.

Time: Three hours (marinade overnight)
Serves: Six
Difficulty: Medium


1 (approx. 2.5kg) lamb shoulder, bone in and scored with a sharp knife
Hot smoked paprika
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
2 oranges, zested and juiced
100ml red wine or cabernet sauvignon vinegar
200ml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper for cooking


Marinate the lamb the day before. Place the meat in a bowl and season very well with salt and pepper, rub over all the spices, the zest and the garlic and then pour over the olive oil, juice and vinegar. Massage the marinade into the meat and between the score marks. Cover, place in the fridge and leave overnight. The next day and when you are ready to cook remove the lamb from the fridge to come to room temperature.

Light and set a BBQ with plenty of coals and pushed to one side of the BBQ and place the wood to the side so you can cook indirectly.

Drain the lamb from the marinade and place directly on the grill over the coals and sear on all sides until caramelised. Transfer the meat to the indirect cooking zone and place an aluminium tray with some water in above the coals, this will help the lamb to stay moist.

Close the lid and cook for an hour or so - the temperature gauge should read around 200°C. Now turn the lamb, baste with some marinade and top up with some more coals and then cook for a further hour. Baste with the remaining marinade and cook for another 20 minutes. The meat should be very tender and starting to fall from the bone

When the lamb is ready remove from the BBQ and rest for 30 minutes covered in foil. Pull the meat and fat from the bone, roughly chop through and place in a bowl with the resting juices and mix well.

Serve with pitta breads to share.


Cyrus Todiwala’s lamb sheek kebabs with fruits and walnuts

Cyrus Todiwala’s lamb sheek kebabs with fruits and walnuts

One of the highlights of Indian cuisine is the venerable sheek kavaab, or kebab as it is mostly called, and which is usually a street side specialty,says celebrity chef Cyrus Todiwala. A Muslim dish, which can be traced to its Persian roots many centuries ago, Sheek Kavaab is normally made with lamb or mutton and its recipe varies across different states and regions. This recipe is perhaps derived from a Maharajas' hunting trip, when wild boar would be ground up in the jungle and grilled over a brazier. It appeals to most palates and, to my mind is one of the simplest and best. The addition of nuts and dry fruit definitely stems from royal beginnings, but no doubt give it a unique flavour and helps soften sometimes, strong tastes.

Time: 30 minutes
Serves: Four-six (Makes 12-14 small skewers)
Difficulty: Easy


500g lamb mince
Large handful fresh coriander, including stalks
Large handful fresh mint, including stalks
1 x 1inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp Garam Masala powder
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
1 large fresh green chilli, seeds removed
½tsp red chilli powder
½tsp turmeric powder
Juice of ¼ lime
6 seedless dried dates, finely chopped
6 organic apricots, finely chopped
2tbsp walnuts, chopped
Salt, to taste


If using wooden skewers, soak in warm water for 20 minutes. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together. Take a two-inch ball of the mince in one hand and a skewer in the other.  Make the ball as smooth as possible by tossing it like a ball in your hand. Gently shape the lamb in the form of a sausage on the skewer. Cook under a pre-heated grill or barbecue for 6-8 minutes on each side, or until any meat juices run clear.

Serve with a selection of chutneys and a crisp salad or roll in a chapatti or flour tortilla filled with salad and sliced onion.  Enjoy. This mixture can be shaped into burgers too.  Cook for the same amount of cooking time and serve in a burger bun.


Justin Maule’s Scotch Lamb Moroccan tagine

Justin Maule’s Scotch Lamb Moroccan tagine

Glasgow-based chef Justin Maule, who runs bespoke catering company, Wild Fig, came up with this recipe for Quality Meat Scotlands The Scotch Kitchen website.

The sweet notes of honey, apricots, ginger and cinnamon combine with the lamb, garlic, cumin and turmeric to make a mouthwatering North African-influenced dish. Serve with cous cous and natural yoghurt, with some lime and coriander to add a flash of freshness.

Time: 1hr 45mins
Serves: 4
Difficulty: Easy


Glug of honey
Dried apricots
2 onions
Lime wedge
3 garlic cloves
Sprig of mint
Sprig of coriander
2 tsp tomato puree
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp turmeric
1kg Scotch Lamb shoulder
2 tinned tomatoes
2tsp cinnamon


Set your oven to 160C. Start by adding a splash of olive oil, onions, garlic, ginger and spices to an ovenproof casserole dish on a medium heat and season.

Add the diced lamb and stir in the tomato puree, the chopped tomatoes and the honey.

Bring it to a simmer, pop the lid on and place it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours until the lamb is perfectly cooked and tender.  One tip here is to remove the lid halfway through so that the juices start to reduce and really intensify in flavour.

This article was produced in partnership with Quality Meat Scotland 

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