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Perfect match: roast lamb with merlot

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for roast lamb with currant and pine nut stuffing

By Adelaide Lucas
  • Serves 8
Roast lamb with currant and pine nut stuffing
Roast lamb with currant and pine nut stuffing

About a decade ago, merlot was set to be the Next Big Thing: more approachable, softer tannins than the notoriously sturdy cabernet sauvignon, more elegant than that brute, shiraz. Most merlot plants in Australian vineyards, however, are a poor clone of the variety; much was planted in too-hot climates, and many producers 'over-make' it (over-cropped fruit plus too much new oak, masking varietal flavour), so the grape hasn't lived up to expectations. But there is a handful of excellent Australian merlots - most from cooler regions - with the right qualities to match this delicious lamb with currants and pinenuts: medium-bodied reds with firm but supple tannins, aromas of dried herbs and dark currants, and a fleshy, plummy red fruit texture in the mouth. - Max Allen

Seek out a well-crafted Australian merlot from cooler regions to bring out the best in this fragrant lamb dish.

Ingredients

Roast lamb
  • 1 boneless lamb shoulder, butterflied (about 1.5 kg)
  • 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil (¼ cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch silverbeet, stems and leaves thinly sliced separately (about 700gm)
  • 1 lemon, finely grated rind only
  • ½ tsp nutmeg, or to taste
  • To serve: lemon wedges
Currant and pine nut stuffing
  • 55 gm dried currants (1/3 cup)
  • 80 ml merlot (1/3 cup)
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 anchovies, finely chopped
  • 40 gm pine nuts (¼ cup)
  • 1 small eggplant, finely chopped (about 300 gm)
  • 1 red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp brown sugar, or to taste
  • 2 tsp dried Greek oregano
  • 1 lemon, finely grated rind only

Method

Main
  • 1
    For stuffing, combine currants and wine in a bowl. Heat oil in a large frying pan, add onion, garlic, anchovy and nuts and sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat or until soft and nuts start to colour. Add eggplant and capsicum, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until soft. Season to taste with sugar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add oregano and lemon rind, currants and wine and cook for another 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Cool.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 200C. Place lamb skin-side down on a bench, spread over stuffing, roll up tightly, secure with twine and place in a roasting pan. Rub with 2 tbsp oil and season to taste. Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 180C and roast for 1 hour for medium. Cover with foil and rest for 10 minutes.
  • 3
    Heat remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until golden. Add silverbeet stems and cook for 5 minutes or until tender, then add leaves and cook for another 5 minutes or until wilted. Add rind and nutmeg and season to taste. To serve, slice lamb thinly and serve with silverbeet and lemon wedges.

Notes

Drink suggestion by Max Allen