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Roasted lamb shoulder over freekeh

Rice and meat go hand in hand in every Middle Eastern cuisine, but freekeh is a delicious alternative to rice and even a superfood!

With the holidays right around the corner and lots of family gatherings planned, try my recipe for roasted lamb shoulder over a bed of nutty freekeh. Your family and friends will love you for it!

Short on time but want to impress your dinner guests? This roasted lamb shoulder dish is perfect for you! It looks difficult and time consuming, but honestly couldn’t be easier!

The main thing about this dish is that you use good quality meat, since it is the centrepiece. Making slits in it and filling them with garlic ensures the flavour permeates the meat and you end up having tender pieces of roasted garlic to enjoy with your meat.

I like to marinate my lamb shoulder and leave it in the fridge overnight, but you can always marinate it for a few hours before roasting if you are short on time. The most important thing when cooking meat is to bring it to room temperature before putting it in the oven so it cooks evenly. If you choose to marinate your meat on the same day, take it out of the fridge, marinate and leave to come to room temperature, then roast it in the oven. The acid from the lemon juice and vinegar break the meat down and ensure tender meat that is just falling off the bone.

Rice and meat go hand in hand in every Middle Eastern cuisine, but freekeh is a delicious alternative to rice and even a superfood! It is made of durum wheat that is dried, roasted and then rubbed, which is where it gets its name from, as the Arabic word for “rub” is “farik”.

Depending on the brand you buy, the freekeh could have some wheat shells and little stones within it, so make sure you spread it out on a large platter and remove these impurities. Wash it very well until the water runs clear and soak. Once your lamb is almost cooked, start to cook your freekeh, which is cooked in a very similar way to rice.

I like my lamb to brown on the outside, so I remove the foil during the last 10-15 minutes so it is golden brown, but that is optional. To serve, spoon the freekeh into a large serving dish, top with the lamb and sprinkle with toasted almonds and chopped parsley. No need for many sides, just some salad will do, since no one will pay attention to anything else you’ve made anyway!

Ingredients

Lamb

  • 5kg lamb shoulder
  • 8 large garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slivers
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp mixed spice
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 4 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Freekeh

  • 3 cups freekeh, cleaned, washed,and soaked for 1 hour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Toasted almonds, to garnish
  • chopped parsley, to garnish

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Instructions

  1. Wash the lamb shoulder and pat it dry. Make sure to remove any silver skin and excess fat. You will want to keep some fat to keep the meat moist.
  2. With a small sharp knife, make small pockets all around the lamb shoulder, just big enough to insert the garlic slivers. Fill the pockets with the slivers, making sure to push them deep into the meat.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil. Spread the mixture all over the lamb shoulder, making sure to massage it in well.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the spices, salt and pepper and sprinkle over the meat. Rub it well. Set the lamb aside and let it rest, until it comes to room temperature, or wrap in cling film and marinate overnight. Make sure to bring the meat to room temperature before cooking in the oven.
  5. Cover the lamb with aluminium foil and cook at 200C/180C fan for 1.5-2 hours, or until meat is tender and separates easily from the bone.
  6. To make the freekeh, heat the olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onions until soft. Add the freekeh and toss with the onions and oil, making sure the freekeh is coated with oil.
  7. Add the spices, lemon juice and just enough water to cover the freekeh.
  8. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and cover. Check on it periodically. The freekeh is cooked once it is soft, although it may still have a little chew, and the water is absorbed.
  9. To serve, spoon the freekeh into a large serving tray, place the lamb shoulder on top, and sprinkle with the almonds and parsley. Serve with a green salad or cucumber and yogurt salad and enjoy!
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