This winter, we have escaped the city a couple of times to head out to one of our favorite country towns, Blackwood. I think I like this place so much because it's up in the hills amongst the pines, something you don't get much of in Australia, and which tugs at my Finnish-Michigander heartstrings. Because of its elevation, Blackwood gets pretty chilly in July and August (see: my rants about "Australian cold"); the town even occasionally gets a dusting of snow - gasp!
On our most recent trip, we didn't have snow, but there was a serious chill in the air as well as some rain, so we managed to have a very cozy weekend. A couple of friends joined us, one of whom is ex-Master Chef and (not surprisingly) a serious pro in the kitchen. With Jamie behind the stove all weekend, we ate very well. We brought some of the lamb from Craiglee that Dave butchered this year, and Jamie treated it with a slow-braise in red wine, vegetables, and rosemary. Served alongside bacon-fat roast potatoes and many glasses of red wine, this is one of those meals that topped the charts.
I haven't used strict measurements here, not only because Jamie doesn't bother with them, but more importantly because you don't need them. Slow braising any meat like this is not an exact science - it's just about using good ingredients and giving things enough time so that deep, rich flavor can build and develop - this is slow braising at its finest.
Jamie's Slow-Braised Leg of Lamb
1 boneless leg lamb
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
1 head garlic
2 large carrots, chopped
1 bunch rosemary
10 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups good red wine
3-4 cups chicken stock
Pat of butter
Small bunch parsley, chopped
Season lamb liberally with salt and pepper. Warm olive oil in a large heavy pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, add meat and brown all over, 5-7 minutes per side. Transfer lamb to a plate. Reduce heat to medium. To pan, add onion, shallot, unpeeled garlic cloves, carrot, and the leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary; sauté 5 minutes. Add 1 cup red wine and reduce by half. Return lamb to pot and add enough stock to just cover the lamb. Add tomatoes and most of the rosemary, reserving 2 sprigs. Stir, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer (or transfer to a an oven preheated to 325ºF to cook) until meat is tender, 6-7 hours.
Remove lamb from pot and pull apart with a knife and fork.
Strain the sauce and discard the solids. Return pot to medium heat and reduce by half. Add remaining cup of wine and reduce by half again. Chop and add remaining rosemary leaves. Remove from heat and stir through butter and parsley. Serve alongside pulled lamb with roast potatoes and a simple green salad.