Pickled Watermelon and Halloumi Spelt by Jessica Elliott Dennison
"Watermelon is good mood food; brilliant eaten outside, somewhere warm and sunny. You’ll see I qu...
1 × 1.5–2 kg portioned lamb forequarter
2.5 Tbs wild oregano
1.5 Tbs sea salt
The oven needs to be hot. If your wood oven is still hot 2 hours before light a small fire on one side of the oven, let the flames die down to create glowing embers, we don’t want too much flame once the lamb goes in, as this will sear the meat too quickly. Get it to about 140–160 c.
To prepare the meat, separate the rack from the forequarter, keep it rustic, trim the excess large thick pieces of fat – but leave a decent fat layer on the meat, which will render down slowly and keep the meat moist.
Rub the meat all over with wild oregano and salt, in a large ovenproof dish, place the shoulder on a rack so the meat is elevated from the dish. If doing more than one shoulder, stack the meat into a teepee, allowing as much surface area as possible for the smoke to circulate around and adhere to.
Pour some water in the bottom of the dish to create some steam, prevent the initial rendered fat from burning, and keep the meat moist.
Throw a few fresh logs on the fire in the oven – let the fire grab a hold of the wood,
once the wood gets going, put the ovenproof dish in the oven. Then seal the oven door for at least 2 hours, or longer if you like. (If you see smoke escaping from around the edges of the door during this time, it’s a good sign).
After 2 hours the meat should develop a nice dark crust and smell of smoke, a good test is to taste the beautiful meat juice in the pan – it should taste sweet, salty and smoky.
At this stage, you don’t want to colour the meat any more, so cover the meat with baking paper first, then foil. If you don’t use baking paper, the salt will react with the aluminium and eat through the bonding to the lamb, giving it a metallic taste.
Put the dish back in the oven to continue roasting for another 3–4 hours in a sealed oven.
You know the lamb is ready when the shoulder blade pulls away cleanly and easily.
Wood fired oven.