Christmas festivities begin on 8 December in Spain with The Feast of the Immaculate Conception and continue until 6 January for Three Kings’ Day. However, it is Christmas Eve that plays host to the main culinary event of the season. Known as la noche buena (the good night), dinner is eaten late, either before or after midnight mass. The feasting often begins with seafood, followed by roast lamb and pork, and is finished off with desserts including turron (sweet almond nougat) and polvorones (almond shortbread cookies). Cordero asado (roast lamb) is popular in the Catalan region of Spain, where a whole lamb is cooked over an open fire, often marinated with garlic, herbs and lemon. Of course, no Spanish roast is complete without a side of patatas fritas (fried potatoes).
- 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp lard, melted
- 1.2 kg lamb shoulder with bone
- 125 ml (½ cup) dry white wine
- patatas fritas, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 20 minutes
Drink 2005 Berberana Carta de Oro Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain ($14)
Using a mortar and pestle, grind garlic, 1 tbsp salt and parsley to form a paste. Pour lard over lamb, then coat lamb in garlic paste.
Preheat oven to 160°C. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add lamb and cook, turning, for 5 minutes or until lightly browned all over. Transfer to a roasting pan and pour white wine into base.
Roast for 2½ hours, then cover with foil and cook for another hour until meltingly tender. Rest, loosely covered with foil, for 20 minutes before carving. Serve with patatas fritas.
Photography by Chris Chen
As seen in Feast magazine, Dec/Jan 2013, Issue 27.