"By far our most popular dish at Monster, this is in fact loosely based on a dish I had in Istanbul years ago at a restaurant called Antiochia, in Beyolu," says McConnell. "Antiochia specialises in regional cuisine from Antakya, in the Hatay region of Turkey. The meat was delicately spiced, perfectly cooked over coals, and served simply with a dollop of labne, pomegranate seeds, pistachios and crisp flatbread, cooked over coals. At Monster, we've added crisp vine leaves and substituted the flatbread with brik pastry." Begin this recipe a day ahead to marinate the lamb.
- 3 tbsp each cumin seeds and coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 25 gm ginger
- 4 garlic cloves
- 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
- 60 ml (¼ cup) pomegranate molasses
- Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
- 1 lamb shoulder on the bone (2.4kg)
- 500 ml red wine
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) pomegranate molasses
- 500 gm labne
- To serve: pomegranate seeds and crushed roasted pistachio kernels
Crisp brik pastry
- 8 sheets brik pastry
- 100 ml clarified butter
Crisp vine leaves
- 6 vine leaves in brine
- For brushing: olive oil
- 1Dry-roast spices in a frying pan over low heat until fragrant, then grind in a spice blender or finely crush with a mortar and pestle while still warm and place in a bowl. Grate ginger and garlic on a microplane straight into the spice mixture, then add olive oil, molasses and lemon rind. Score fat side of the lamb and season with 2 tsp sea salt and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, then rub spice mixture into meat (2 minutes). Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- 2For brik pastry, preheat oven to 180C. Brush a sheet of pastry with clarified butter, top with another sheet of pastry and repeat, finishing with butter. Place between 2 baking trays and bake until golden brown (10-12 minutes). Leave to cool, then break into rough pieces.
- 3For vine leaves, reduce oven to 160C. Soak leaves in cold water for 5 minutes to remove excess salt, then place flat on paper towels. Cover with another layer of paper towels, pat to remove excess moisture, then brush both sides of each leaf with oil and place flat on a baking tray. Cover with another baking tray and bake until dry and crisp (10-12 minutes). Set aside.
- 4Preheat oven to 100C. Place marinated lamb in a roasting pan, add 500ml water to pan, cover with baking paper then foil and roast until meat is falling from the bone (about 7 hours). Remove foil and paper, increase oven to 180C and roast until browned (40-45 minutes). Remove lamb from pan (reserve pan juices), rest for 30 minutes, then break into large pieces. Keep warm or if preparing ahead, cover and refrigerate.
- 5Pour pan juices into a saucepan, add wine and pomegranate molasses, bring to the boil and cook until reduced to a jus consistency (10-12 minutes). Preheat oven to 200C. Place lamb and jus in an ovenproof pan, bring to the boil, then bake in oven until liquid reduces slightly and lamb begins to caramelise (10-15 minutes). Dollop labne into a bowl, top with lamb, then pour jus over. Scatter with pomegranate seeds and pistachios, top with vine leaves and shards of brik pastry and serve.
Drink Suggestion: 2013 Clonakilla O’Riada Shiraz. Drink suggestion by Michael Gray