I love to grill and probably do at least two to three times per week. But, too much of a good thing becomes one-note and I start craving food with a lot of flavor!
This usually means a recipe that involves some kind of sauce or a dish that is slow roasted or slow cooked. This cooking process is how deep flavors develop. Using the right variety and kind of seasonings are essential for that complex flavor I was craving. Without a plan in mind, a recent shopping trip to Fiesta Farms provided the answer, sort of.
I usually stop at their butcher counter (in the photo above) because they have unusual cuts of meat, as well as different kinds of meat. This is not to say that you can reliably find the same cuts and varieties day in and day out, but there is always variety.
This time it was their display of shoulder of lamb that caught my attention. The lamb was lamb, and by that I mean that the shoulder had very little fat and was pink, like white veal. And it was small, which indicates that it was very young, and, which is a consideration when cooking for two! Think about this, I don’t know of too many people who would get as excited as I was at the prospect of finding and making this lamb!
So, without knowing exactly how to prepare, I bought a 2 pound shoulder (which is about the right size for a shoulder of lamb) and even before getting home, I had decided that I would try something with middle eastern warm spices, cinnamon, cloves, cumin etc. I also visualized using citrus and dried fruits, orange, lemon, raisins, and even pine nuts.
So that was the template. In the next day or so, I googled lamb shoulder and found 3 or 4 recipes which bordered on the flavors I had in mind. One from a chef in the UK set the method of cooking, which was both roasting and braising, another chef added the wine component to the braising liquid, yet another posted a Moroccan spice blend that most closely resembled what I had already decided.
So, the Moroccan Spiced Shoulder of Lamb was created! And wow, what a flavor sensation. As I say in my recipe comments, it’s been a long time since I enjoyed each bite of a dish and just wanted more. It had eye appeal, it had loads of flavor, it had lovely citrus overtones, and a natural sauce from the braising liquid. Pretty perfect.
I decided to use Farro, which is an ancient grain, as the side dish. It has a nutty flavor and retains a nice firm texture without being crunchy. It is used a lot in salads and side dishes. One of the recipes I found used a similar grain and the recipe called for adding the cooked grain to the braising liquid before serving. It sounded good, so I cooked the Farro and added it at the last minute. It turned out to be the ideal pairing for the Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shoulder.
So, my flavor craving was satisfied, and aside of the variety of spices required for the Moroccan spice blend, the recipe is actually quite simple and you will likely have most of the other ingredients in your pantry. And while this was all indoor cooking, I did not find it heavy or particularly ‘wintry’ as you might think, it was just plain delicious!