Easter Lamb

So I mentioned before that I have never been a huge fan of the Sunday Roast, and Easter Sunday very nearly changed that – except that it wasn’t the lamb I was crazy for, but (as usual) the side dishes. However, given that the veg were cooked in the roasting pan with the lamb, it almost counts… right?

I was given a much-appreciated present of Cook With Jamie for Christmas, but the parent’s kitchen has been out of commission for the past few months, so I got my first chance to try it out on Sunday. I made Roast Leg of Lamb with Aubergines and Onions (conveniently available online) and (not-so) Incredible Boiled Butternut Squash with Squash Seed and Parmesan Pangrattato.

First the good. The lamb was indeed delicious, though my lamb was smaller than Jamie’s and not on the bone, so I fudged the cooking times and gave it 20 minutes to the lb at 220ºC instead. As I mentioned above, the star of the show was the aubergine and onion component of the dish. It couldn’t have been easier to put together, and really brought the standard Sunday lunch fare to a different level.

I’ll refer you to the recipe for precise instructions, but basically you chop up red onions and aubergines and chuck them in with the lamb after 20 minutes. You leave them to cook with the lamb, while you whizz up a tomato sauce. I discovered at the last minute that we were all out of tinned tomatoes, so mine was made with passata and consequently probably slightly more liquid than the recipe intended, but still delicious. On a similar vein, I added some balsamic vinegar instead of anchovies for flavour, rebel that I am.

A huge fan, I’m biased when it comes to all things aubergine, but everyone seemed to love this dish. The dried red chili added just the right amount of kick.

Pangrattato, Aubergines and Red Onion and Boiled Butternut Squash

What was not such a success, was the boiled butternut squash, also from Cook With Jamie. The recipe’s not online, but basically, you boil a butternut squash whole (takes an hour and 15 minutes, and is done when a knife slides through it easily). While it’s cooking, you fry up some breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, thyme and another crushed dried chili.

Then you deseed the squash, reserving the seeds, and chop it into cubes. You fry the seeds for a minute then add your breadcrumbs and a handful of grated parmesan cheese. Jamie assures that all you need to do is drizzle the squash with some balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil before serving to produce an ‘absolutely delicious’ dish. But here he and I differ.

My first quibble is that frying the squash seeds just didn’t produce the delicious crunch that roasting them would have, consequently depriving the topping of real bite and turning the whole thing into a bit of a damp squib.

On a more fundamental level however, while boiling the squash was fun from a novelty point of view (who knew you could do that?) the results were less than inspiring. In both texture and taste, the result was inferior to roasting the squash, and even the balsamic vinegar couldn’t hide that. A dinner table discussion of possible dressings wondered whether maybe some lemon and olive oil and coriander might have done better, but the ultimate verdict was, when it comes to squash, roasting is king. And the jury’s still out on Jamie. Can you even say that these days? Saint Jamie?

Speaking of all things roast, our new main oven (a steam oven, of all things) is not yet in working order, so space constraints forced us to forgo the traditional roast spuds in favour of cous-cous. (Yum).

Next up: Dessert – Avoca Cafe Lemon Curd Cheesecake.

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