Mofo guide to pairing | Meatsmith's Lamb in the wood oven
The Meatsmith Cookbook is available in all good bookshops right now, and it got us thinking about our perfect wine pairings for all things grilled, BBQed and roasted.
Here's what our buyer Pete tips as an ideal wine pair alongside Meatsmith's Lamb in the wood oven - along with the recipe itself, so you can grab some wine and give it a crack yourself at home.
When I’m thinking about lamb (and I’m often thinking about lamb), my mind goes straight to richness, roasty-ness and, above all else, delicious, moreish fatty-ness. That requires a wine with enough bright acidity and rich, dense fresh fruit flavours to match. Here are two that rise to that task with ease. Enjoy! - Pete, Senior Wine Buyer
Borderline perfect Chianti Classico. Savoury, earthy, tart - this is a hall of famer in the making. A mofo fave already, it's bold and supple, with heaps of saucy black cherry action. The acid’s there; that common theme in pretty much all Italians that guarantees food-friendliness for a hearty dish like this. Dusty cypress-lined gravel path tannins give just the right hint of the rustic, without taking away from the class and poise of what is a cracking vino. It's full, it's robust, it's sappy, it's bright, and it's long - we can see why the critics are raving, this is something special to be sure.
A wine laced with intensity and nuance, it'll have any guest at the table going back for another dive in the glass. This number has seen a little elevation and a slower ripening season that results in a fresher wine out of the gate. Give that wine with all its structure and elegance over half a decade in bottle, and you have a whole other gem. From a single vineyard in the Eden Valley, this wine has stood the test of time with ease. Think chocolate ripple biscuits and blackcurrant fruit-rollups, all tied together in a remarkably savoury palate, making it a perfect match for an umami-rich dish like this one. You'll absolutely see the development from cellar time, in a very moreish way. We've taken almost every bottle that was ever made though, so grab your chance while it's here - and make this the pairing you enjoy a glass or two with.
Lamb in the wood oven
This recipe is an indulgence that will elevate any celebration. We use the forequarter, which is the complete neck, shoulder and rib. If you don’t have access to a wood-fired oven, a conventional oven will also do the trick.
1 lamb forequarter (approx. 21/2–3 kg/
5 ½ –6 lb 10 oz) extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
salt, to season
3 onions, quartered
3 bulbs fennel, quartered, 1 bunch tops and fronds reserved
1 garlic bulb, smashed
500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water handful each of rosemary, thyme and flat-leaf (Italian) parsley (and any other hard herbs you may have growing in your garden)
3 bay leaves
The day before you wish to cook the lamb, rub the whole forequarter all over with a splash of oil and season with plenty of salt. Refrigerate for a minimum of 10 hours.
Preheat an outdoor pizza oven (or conventional oven, if using) to 220°C (430°F).
Arrange the onion, fennel and garlic on a roasting tray large enough to accommodate the lamb. Pat the lamb dry with paper towel and arrange on top of the vegetables. Add 1 cup (250 ml/81/2 fl oz) of water to the roasting tray and place in the oven. There should be enough heat initially to caramelise the skin of the lamb – this should take around 20 minutes.
Open the flue to reduce the heat of the oven to 180°C (360°F). Continue to cook the lamb for 3–4 hours, rotating in the oven occasionally and checking that the vegetables are not burning. If the meat is getting a bit too dark, rest a few pieces of foil over the lamb to stop it from colouring and burning.
After about 3 hours, check the lamb by gently tugging on one of the shanks. If the bone comes away easily it is ready. Arrange the herbs, fennel tops and bay leaves over and around the lamb and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, cover with foil and set aside to rest for an hour (this will allow the flavour of the herbs to infuse the meat).
To serve, discard any hard herbs and cut the lamb into large pieces (the meat should easily come apart). Arrange on a platter. Carefully remove the vegetables from the baking tray and arrange around the roast lamb. Serve with extra salt and plenty of lemon halves.
This is an edited extract from Meatsmith by Andrew McConnell and Troy Wheeler published by Hardie Grant Books.
Photography: © Mark Roper 2023
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