Fig-Stuffed Roast Lamb with Mushroom & Port Gravy

Serendipity is when you have a dozen dried figs that have been soaking for 2 weeks in brandy and looking for a worthy cause, and then you find a lamb shoulder already butterflied and ready for stuffing on sale at the butcher counter!

Makes about 4 cups stuffing

12 dried figs, soaked overnight (or 2 weeks) in 2 cups brandy
4 slices stale whole wheat bread, torn into 6-8 pieces each
2 TBL olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp oregano
sea salt and ground black pepper
3 TBL minced fresh parsley
additional brandy or water as needed

Rough chop the dried figs and return to the soaking liquid, along with the torn bread.

Heat small pan over medium high heat. When heated through, add oil and onions, and reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, rosemary and oregano, and stir through to combine. Cook together 2-3 minutes, or until you can smell the garlic and herbs.

Remove from heat and add to the figs and bread. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper, and add parsley. With your hands or a wooden spoon, combine the ingredients thoroughly. If mixture is a little dry, drizzle brandy or water over until it just holds together. Set aside until needed.

Serves 4 persons

2.5 lb/ 1kg lamb shoulder, butterflied
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 cups Fig Stuffing (above)
kitchen twine or metal roasting skewers

Lay butterflied lamb roast on work surface. Season well and fill center with about 2 cups stuffing. Bring ends of lamb to center and secure with kitchen twine or metal skewers. Season outside of roast. Place remaining stuffing in an oiled baking dish, drizzle with about 2 TBL of water or broth, and cover with foil (I also place a piece of wax paper or parchment between food and foil).

Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C.

Heat large skillet over high heat. Add olive oil, and lay roast in pan with open side of roast down. Brown well — the meat will release from the pan when sufficiently browned, about 2 full minutes. Brown all sides well.

Place browned roast in an oiled oven-proof pan, and into pre-heated oven. Roast for 15 minutes, then turn oven down to 325F/162C for remainder of cooking time — it took about 40 minutes more for this 2.5lb roast to reach medium doneness (160F/70C on an instant-read thermometer) at the center. See the American Lamb Council’s time and temperature recommendations for roasting lamb.

(Start gravy by browning mushrooms while the roast is in the oven)

Place leftover dressing in oven for the last 30 minutes of roasting time. Remove lamb to serving platter and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, finish the gravy from the pan drippings.

1 lb. cremini (aka baby bella) mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 TBL olive oil
1 TBL/ 15g unsalted butter, in small dice
1/2 cup/ 120ml water
1/2 cup/ 120ml red wine
1/2 cup/ 120 ml port wine
1 TBL soy sauce
4 TBL/ 60g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp oregano
sea salt and ground black pepper
1 TBL. flour mixed with 1 TBL. olive oil

Heat wok or large skillet over high heat. Add oil and sliced mushrooms, and spread in pan so they don’t crowd. Gently press mushrooms against pan to brown one side. Turn mushrooms to brown other side. Remove from heat and add butter pieces. Swirl to melt butter. Remove to gravy boat and set aside.

After removing roast from pan, add water, wine and port to pan and gently scrape up all the browned bits (except rosemary leaves, remove any stray leaves — they can be very bitter). If your roasting pan is stainless steel or other stove-top safe material, it helps to gently heat the pan on the stove to get every delicious browned bit.

Remove all the contents of the roasting pan to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Season well, and add soy sauce and oregano. Reduce heat and add flour-oil mixture, stirring well to incorporate the flour. Simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, then add browned mushrooms and any accumulated liquid in bowl. Cook another 2 minutes to heat mushrooms through, then remove to gravy boat and serve with roast.

Roast lamb with gravy pictured here with steamed fingerling potatoes and Roasted Belgian Endive.