Roast Lamb with Orzo, Dill, Broad Bean Pilaf & Flat Bread

  • Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: medium

‘What’s not to like on this plate… beautiful orzo with dill and broad bean pilaf, perfectly cooked roast lamb and some warm flatbreads to construct a little wrap. Another Middle Eastern  / Mediterranean inspired dish for the family and kids, or just for a solo dish.’

Pete
'I'm loving this orzo pilaf dish, inspired by Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours. What's great is it makes for yummy leftovers for lunch!'

What you need

For the pilaf

300g orzo or risoni

1 large onion chopped

2 sticks celery chopped

500ml chicken or vegetable stock plus 150ml water

300g frozen broad beans

Several sprigs fresh dill, chopped

Olive oil

For the roast lamb

800g lamb neck fillet

1 lemon

For the lamb marinade

250g Greek yoghurt

1 garlic clove grated

Half red or green chilli – to taste

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

Juice of 1 lemon

Good pinch salt

For the yoghurt

250g Greek yoghurt

Grated zest of half a lemon

Juice of half a lemon

1 tbs chopped fresh mint plus extra to garnish

Salt and pepper

To serve

Mixed salad with dressing

Warm flatbread



Dad's Recipe Tales

How to cook orzo and risoni

I’m on mission: I’m trying to find new ways to cook those rice-like pasta shapes – orzo and risoni. According to Barilla, risoni were originally created as a substitute for the lack of rice on Italian tables; they go onto suggest that both can be substituted for rice in cooking. However, when I used risoni in a pilaf which included a thick liquid of tomatoes and soft vegetables it went clumpy, if not mushy. To offset this effect I fried my risoni before adding liquid, as you do with feduela. This worked really well, as can be seen in my pilaf and squash recipe.

In this recipe here, I’m cooking orzo in a lighter pilaf using the classic Middle Eastern/Mediterranean combo of dill and broad beans. Another success! But why was it so successful? Surely a pilaf made with rice would be better? Of course, a rice pilaf is good, but orzo also works; it makes a distinctly different type of dish. Orzo and risoni behave like rice but are lighter and easier to eat. They also make excellent leftovers. I’m definitely sold on the shapes. Next up: risotto and paella…

How to cook lamb neck fillet

My mother made amazing lamb baguettes. She would grill neck fillets until charred but still quite rare in the middle. Then she would slice them thinly on the diagonal. They were tender and had loads of flavour. She also did this with flank and skirt steak.

However, the general view is that neck fillet is a tough and cheaper cut – more suited to slow braising than grilling; like the slow French style braise with butter bean I make which is beautifully tender and delicious. Most butchers agree with this view, though I have seen one butcher’s website recommend both grilling and braising. Meanwhile, I notice that chef Marcus Waring suggests cutting a (middle) neck fillet on the diagonal and then frying each slice before putting into a baguette. Clearly my Mother and Marcus knew a trick or two about lamb neck fillets.

One thing’s for sure: they are no longer cheap. This might be a an outcome of supply and demand or an increased awareness of the flavour in the cut. When I was discussing the fairly pricey neck fillets with my butcher at Bevan’s, it was suggested the price reflected that they could be roasted. With a reassuring smile she told me that was the way her mother always cooked them. Well, mothers know best, so I tried roasting my fillets. They were excellent!

How Dad Cooked It

  1. Marinate the lamb. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl. Trim any sinews from the fillets and place in the marinade and coat well. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C Gas 6.
  3. Roast the lamb. Place the neck fillets in a roasting dish with the marinade. Cut a lemon in quarters and add to the pan. Cook for 30-40 minutes, or until browned on the outside and cooked on the inside, ideally a little on the pink side.
  4. Make the pilaf. In a large cast iron casserole pan with lid, fry the onion and celery with a pinch of salt on medium high heat in 2 tbs olive oil for 10 minutes until soft. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the broad beans then turn off the heat and let them thaw for 5 minutes and drain. Add the orzo to the onions and celery and fry for 5 minutes. Bring the stock and water to the boil and add to the orzo along with the beans and dill. Bring back up to a simmer then put the lid on the pan slightly ajar and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Check that the water is absorbed and the orzo is al dente. Take out of the oven, stir and rest with the lid on for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve. Remove the lamb from the roasting tin and splash some chicken stock or water in the pan to deglaze and amalgamate the residues. Slice the lamb thinly on diagonal. Serve with yoghurt, flat breads, salad, the orzo pilaf, roasted lemon quarters and the pan juices poured over the lamb.

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