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Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Chickpea Puree and Hot Mint Sauce

Corderro con Garbanzos y Salsa de Hierbabuena
From Casa Moro: The Second Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark
Serves: 4-6

1 shoulder of lamb, about 1.6 - 1.8 kg (3.5 - 4 lbs)
Sea salt and black pepper

4 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with a pinch of salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 medium red onion, finely grated
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil

To serve:
1 quantity Chickpea Puree (see below)
1 quantity Hot Mint Sauce (see below)

For the lamb:
Place the lamb in a large roasting pan. If you are using a shoulder, score the surface very lightly 1-2mm deep in a 1 cm criss-cross pattern to help the marinade penetrate the meat.

Mix all the marinade ingredients together except the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and rub all over the meat. Now add the olive oil (it can prevent the acidity of the lemon and vinegar from penetrating the meat), and leave to marinate for a minimum of 2 hours, turning occasionally, or in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160C (325F). Cook the lamb for a minimum of 3 hours, adding a small glass of water (125ml or 1/2 cup) to the pan after the first 30 minutes and each subsequent hour. Baste the lamb every 45 minutes. To test if the lamb is ready, insert a wooden skewer in the centre: if the meat is soft and has a lot of give, then it is done. Let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Chickpea Puree
Serves: 4-6

450g dried large chickpeas
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
Half a medium onion or 1 head of garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-1/2 rounded teaspoons cumin seeds, roughly ground
30 threads saffron, infused in 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Place the dried chickpeas in a bowl, cover with cold water, add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda, and soak overnight.
Drain the chickpeas, rinse well, and place in a large saucepan with the half of an onion or 1 head of garlic. Cover with 2 liters (2 quarts) of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, skimming off any scum, and cook for 1-2 hours or until soft and tender. Drain the chickpeas, saving about 1 cup of cooking liquor. You do not have to remove the skins on the chickpeas.

Place the chickpeas in a food processor and puree the chickpeas until quite smooth. Add enough cooking liquor or water so they are similar to wet mashed potato. Set aside.

Just before serving the lamb, in a medium saucepan, heat up the olive oil over a medium to high heat and add the onion, garlic and cumin. Fry, stirring until the onion and the garlic are evenly golden brown. When ready, add the chickpea puree and the saffron infusion. Simmer for 5 minutes and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, sprinkled with the chopped parsley.

Hot Mint Sauce
Serves: 4-6
Do not worry if the mint becomes discoloured; it is just the action of the vinegar.

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 tablespoons finely chopped mint
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper

Place a small saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Add half of the mint and all of the cumin. Fry for another minute and then add the vinegar. Simmer for 30 seconds more and remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining mint and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot over the lamb.