Slow-Roasted Turkish Lamb
This lamb must be cooked until completely tender and succulent, but if time is a concern, it may also be prepared well in advance and reheated in the pan juices to serve. Shoulder is the best cut to use, or lamb shanks. It’s finished with a bright garnish of pomegranate seeds and sliced persimmons. Small Fuyu persimmons are delicious eaten firm and raw, like an apple, unlike the larger Hachiya type, which must be ripe and soft to be palatable (and would not be suitable here). Lacking persimmons, use more pomegranate. Serve it with rice pilaf, if desired.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 1(3- to 4-pound) boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- ½teaspoon Maras pepper or regular red-pepper flakes (optional)
- 2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 small lemon)
- 2tablespoons pomegranate molasses (optional)
- 2large thyme sprigs
- 1small rosemary sprig
- 4bay leaves
- 8garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1small onion, peeled and halved
- 3or 4 firm Fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced (optional)
- ½cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
- 2tablespoons roughly chopped parsley, some leaves reserved
- 2tablespoons roughly chopped mint, some leaves reserved
- 1medium lemon, cut into wedges
- Plain yogurt, for serving
Step 1Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut lamb shoulder into 2 or 3 pieces, and place in a shallow 12-by-14-inch roasting pan or similar. Season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with red pepper, if desired.
Step 2Rub meat with olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Tuck thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, garlic cloves and onion halves here and there. Place in oven, uncovered, and roast for 30 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned.
Step 3Turn meat browned-side down and add 2 cups of water to the pan. Cover tightly with foil or lid. Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Cook, covered, until meat is absolutely fork tender and beginning to fall apart, about 3 1/2 hours total. Uncover during last 30 minutes of cooking if you want to brown the meat a bit more.
Step 4Remove meat to a cutting board. Pour pan juices into a skillet (discard herbs and garlic). Skim and discard excess fat from surface. Bring to a boil and simmer until about a cup remains.
Step 5Chop or shred meat into 1-inch chunks or rough slices. Transfer to a warm platter and pour juices over. (Alternatively, leave meat in pan with reduced juices until ready to serve.) Garnish with persimmon and pomegranate (if using), parsley, mint and lemon wedges. Serve yogurt on the side.