It’s one of the Great British Monday morning’s biggest mysteries; why that leftover roast lamb just feels so unappealing for the early week’s packed lunches. Chicken? Sure, you’ll be great in a sarnie, or as part of an impromptu salad. Cold roast beef? Pass me the horseradish and stop asking questions. But cold lamb, with fat congealed and condiments less obvious, has the country’s collective consciousness scratching its head and reaching for the compost bin (don’t do that by the way). Instead, listen to these; what to do with leftover roast lamb; our 5 IDEAL dishes.
A word on storage and reheating. The roast lamb should be cooled at room temperature before it goes into the fridge (that will have happened around the Sunday Roast table no doubt). It’ll keep for three or four days in there. When you do need to use it for one of our great dishes, make sure you reheat it thoroughly and completely.
Sure, it’s a predictable choice, and one which perhaps doesn’t even require a paragraph devoted to it, but it’s a classic for a reason; us Brits just love a Shepherd’s Pie and we always have some leftover meat from our Sunday Roast. The rest writes itself (we wish it did, actually).
So, shred down that leftover lamb, or mince in the food processor (though be careful, this can quickly turn to a lamb paste…and no one wants that). Fry off finely diced onions, carrot, celery and leek, add your lamb and some stock and simmer until everything is tender. And if you have any leftover lamb gravy from yesterday to add to the braise, then the flavour levels just went up several notches.
Top with mashed potato and perhaps a not-too-traditional-but-oh-so-delicious grating of pecorino cheese and bake in the oven until the top is browned. If that’s not happening efficiently, use the grill. Bon appetit!
THAI LAAP SALAD
Though this Northern Thai classic salad usually uses minced chicken, pork or catfish, minced lamb can make an interesting alternative, and an invigorating way to use up your leftover roast lamb. If you do envisage making this with your Sunday Roast remains, perhaps hold back on the Mediterranean herbs of thyme and rosemary in the roasting process; it’s going to taste slightly jarring in your laap.
Laap salads from Thailand’s Issan region are usually garnished with roasted rice and smoked chilli powder. Toast the former (soaked then dried sticky rice is the best, but you can use long grain, too) over a low heat, with some kaffir lime leaf and galangal added to the pan if you have any, until the rice is the colour of golden sand. Then, grind to a fairly fine powder. For the smoked chilli powder, toast dried chillis (preferably the long red version) over a high heat until smoky and dark (you might want to cover your mouth and nose for this). Discard any blackened seeds which may have escaped the chillies during the toasting before doing so, then grind to a fine powder.
While you’re doing that, you’ll want to mince the leftover lamb to your desired coarseness by hand. Then, all you have to do is assemble. You can use the lamb cold or warm it through; that’s up to you. Either way, mix it well with equal quantities of lime juice and fish sauce, and golden caster sugar to taste. Add chopped mint, coriander and some sliced shallots and spring onions, along with your toasted rice and smoked chilli powder. Mix well and serve, ideally with more sticky rice.
SZECHUAN STIR-FRIED LAMB WITH CUMIN
The Szechuan province of China, famed for its nuclear spice levels, pungent, punchy flavours and numbing pepper, has a wicked way with lamb. Harness all of these elements in a delicious dish of spicy stir-fried lamb with cumin.
Firstly, cut your leftover lamb into bite-sized, thickish slices, ideal for getting crispy in a screaming hot pan or wok whilst still remaining tender. Marinate these slices for at least an hour in a mixture of soy sauce and Shaoxing rice wine (pale dry sherry can be used as a substitute). Combine corn starch with ground dried chillies, toasted then ground cumin seeds, and ground Szechuan peppercorns (go easy, they can quickly overpower a dish). After marinating, drain the lamb and coat with this dry mix.
Get your pan or wok super hot then add a neutral oil and stir fry the lamb until crispy. Add sliced spring onions, minced garlic and ginger, and stir fry a little longer. Serve over rice or noodles.
This comforting Greek dish of layered aubergine and minced lamb, burnished with a blistered Bechamel sauce, is a fantastic way to use up your leftover lamb, and makes cold, gloomy Monday nights so much more inviting.
Firstly, slice your aubergines into discs roughly the thickness of a one pound coin, and salt in a colander to extract excess moisture. Mince your leftover lamb, fry off finely chopped onion and garlic, then add the lamb along with plenty of dried oregano and a little ground cinnamon. Add a hefty glug of white wine, and reduce over a high heat briefly, then add stock (or leftover gravy, if you’ve got any, for extra flavour) and a reserved amount of tomato puree. Simmer until it’s a homogenous, fairly dry ragu-like unit. Meanwhile, make a classic bechamel sauce, but pep it up at the last with grated pecorino (a wonderful accompaniment to lamb) and enrichen with an egg yolk or two.
All that’s left is to layer up the aubergines, minced lamb mix and your bechamel, making sure there’s a good coating of the latter on top. Bake in a hot oven for around half an hour, doing the last ten minutes under the grill if the top isn’t blistering to a satisfying level.
LAMB & PEA SAMOSAS
We’re going to defer to the master here. Madhur Jaffrey, in her superb book Indian Cookery, suggests an excellent, highly spiced recipe for minced lamb with peas (kheema matar) which we’ve found is just perfect for using up leftover roast lamb. Enjoy the dish with some pickles and paratha, as the queen of Indian cooking suggests, or inside a samosa, which she also provides a recipe for. We highly recommend the effort here. In fact, we’d highly recommend getting the book, too!