Roast lamb in mid summer heat? There are times in a sweltering Maltese summer when I do get the urge to have a proper Sunday roast. Just slam in the lamb (this recipe cooks itself) and relax in hammock, garden, shower or pool (the latter is wishful thinking, but the name of the game is to escape the kitchen heat for cooler climes while this tasty dish does the business).
It’s been a while since I managed to post here, or cook something of interest. End June saw me immersed in helping my 11 year old get through exams (why, oh why they put kids so young under exam stress beats me). Then we debunked almost immediately to Naples, Ischia and Campania for two weeks. A varied holiday of ‘citta, mare e montagne’ was perhaps too much to take on.
Napoli proved, surprisingly, the hit of the two weeks and I wished I’d planned longer there. But, a city in the July heat didn’t sound too promising so I’d booked a conservative three days in case the men weren’t keen on it; I’m the Caravaggio fan, and a city of religious art might not have been their thang. However, I didn’t reckon on Naples street life being the star of the holiday. Every metre of the centro storico had stories to tell. Another amazing city on my must-return-to-list, Naples will be inspiring some upcoming recipes, but not just pizze!
Back to Malta then, and who can’t say that living on islands in the Med isn’t a staycation? So, while work rears its head, there’s plenty to look forward too. Most days see us drive 8 mins to the local inlet for a dip. Bathers and snorkels a daily feature dripping in our courtyard. Easy summer recipes are name of the game now as days are now seriously hot and sticky. My easy summer supper series continues. Though as this was for Sunday, I’ll take the liberty of popping in this easy roast lamb among the supper numbers. Aubergines are aplenty here in Malta, but peppers or squash would do as well.
Five minutes to prep and around one hour to cook. Serve with a salad and you’re done on this one. Just hole up somewhere away from the oven and chill out with a Pimms or other long drink while this fragrant and peppy lamb dish does all by itself.
All images © Liz Ayling 2014
- Medium shoulder of lamb (preferably with bone, but I used boneless)
- 180g unsalted butter, room temperature
- large handful of fresh mint
- 6 springs fresh rosemary
- one large garlic bulb
- 2 medium aubergines
- fresh-milled sea salt
- red pepper corns (or dried chili flakes)
- Wash and pat dry the lamb joint. Make incisions into the top side with a sharp knife. Peel a couple of garlic cloves and chop them lengthways into quarters. Insert the garlic slices into the incisions.
- Chop three sprigs of rosemary very finely. Do the same with half the mint. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the rosemary and mint into the butter til you have a smooth paste. Smear the herb butter on the top of the lamb joint. Leave to chill and infuse for 15 minutes in the fridge, covered with foil.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade. When you are ready to cook, chop the aubergines into rough cubes and add around the lamb joint in an oven-proof dish. Add also the remaining garlic cloves, unpeeled. Sprinkle the joint and aubergine with some fresh-milled sea salt and some crushed red pepper corns, and garnish with the remaining rosemary sprigs.
- Cook for around 1 – 1¼ hours until the lamb is nicely roasted on top but still medium-rare inside. The aubergines should char a little in places, but there will some sauce around the lamb. It won’t be totally dry. If need be, cover with foil mid way through cooking to avoid too much charring on top.
- Serve garnished with more chopped mint and with a crisp side salad. If eating in winter, add more vegetables of choice. Mashed potato would be ideal.