Lamb with Camomile Tea

This is a guest post – and doesn't the lamb sound delicious?  I love all the herbs in it (even if the puppies are bent on destroying my herb garden)  Thanks for a great recipe, Izzy.

Lamb with Camomile Tea 

Certainly it is an unusual combination, but this recipe – which uses the contents of four camomile teabags combined with fresh organic herbs and honey – will have you looking at your tea selection in a whole new light.

A friend of mine cooked this for me recently and I was astonished by the combination of flavours, and wondered if anyone else knew of recipes containing tea. It was a cooking trend amongst top chefs a few years ago, but never caught on in the ‘real world’, as far as I am aware. Reserved for chefs who know a thing or two about combining fragrances in cooking, it seems tea has been consigned to the 'experts only' recipe folder.  After tasting this dish I am left wondering why.

Start Experimenting

There is such potential to experiment with tea. Jasmine tea can be used with rice to lift the ordinary into something quite different and complex; Green Tea ice-cream has been tried and tested, so why not try an Earl Grey sorbet, or an Oolong Ice? Tea has been used in cooking for centuries in fact, and makes a good herb rub for meat, especially when used in combination with a fruit glaze, or some other sweetening agent. It can be used in marinades and as a meat tenderiser, or mixed with spices to add notes you will have never come across before. There is something both familiar and unfamiliar about the taste. Why not try Salmon fillets steamed in Earl Grey tea? Earl Grey Tea apparently works extremely well with salmon, due to the slightly citrusy scent that seems to complement oily fish well, and doesn’t have a sharp aftertaste.

Last Chance For Fresh Herbs

Winter is upon us. I know you’re already dreaming about your P&O Cruises 2013, but there is still time to cook this before the snow starts to settle. I just checked in my garden and the thyme, rosemary and sage in my herb bed are all still growing strongly. Don’t miss the last chance to use them. There is nothing like using fresh organically grown herbs in your cooking, and it’s a pleasure that can extend quite deeply into the winter season if your herbs are in a sheltered location. So give this a try, look afresh at your teabags and give your herbs one last hurrah. The lemon cuts through the fat of the lamb and the sweetness of the honey to balance the notes out perfectly. Be sure not to let your dish dry out, and adjust cooking times to suit the size of  the joint. I served this with roasted carrots, baked potatoes and a rustic loaf, to mop up the juices

Ingredients

1.4kg/3lb shoulder of lamb

A handful dried camomile from the garden (or contents of 4 camomile teabags)

1 tbsp dried oregano

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, stalks removed

½ bunch of fresh thyme, stalks removed

12 fresh sage leaves, chopped

Salt

Freshly milled black pepper

Juice of 1 lemon, juice only

1 tbsp good Greek or wild flower clear honey

2 tbsp good olive oil

125ml/4fl oz water

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Make shallow scores through the outer layer of lamb skin and fat, but don’t cut into the meat

Mix the camomile, thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano.

Season well with salt and freshly milled pepper.

Rub some of the herb mixture into the skin of the lamb, and make sure the entire surface is covered.

Add some of the remaining herb mix across the bottom of a casserole dish.

Place the lamb joint into the dish, and squeeze the lemon juice over the meat. Add any spare herb mix over meat.

Pour the honey over the top of the lamb and drizzle with olive oil.

Add the water to the casserole, then put the lid on.

Transfer to the oven and cook for 2½ hours.

Check the dish after one and top up the water if it has evaporated. evaporated, add a little more to maintain the dish's moisture.

After the 2½ hours cooking the lamb meat will fall off the bone.

Allow to rest for 4-5 minutes before serving.

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