It’s salad season! Jessica Applestone, lamb fan, loves this recipe for warm lamb salad with pomegranate. She saw Nigella Lawson do something similar on her show a couple of years ago, adopted it, and hasn’t stopped making it since. She even snuck it in to our book, The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat. (That’s a picture of Nigella’s version here.)
It doesn’t hurt that she gets to beat up a pomegranate every time she makes it, but the real reason she adores the recipe is because it’s a showstopper that makes her look good with almost no effort at all. Warm lamb salad with pomegranate is also a great use of lamb shoulder — a wildly underutilized cut — and is the perfect braising recipe. When the weather really heats up, you can use a Crock-Pot for the shoulder if you don’t want your oven on. This hearty salad will serve 6 to 8 people.
1 (5-pound) boneless lamb shoulder, cleaned and tied. Or, you can actually use anything braisable, like shanks or country-style ribs.
4 shallots, unpeeled, halved
6 garlic cloves
Coarse sea salt
2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade) or half lamb and half chicken stock
2 heads arugula or watercress or whatever looks good at your market
Small handful of chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or POM juice (optional)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (optional)
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Pita bread, warmed, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. (Or use your Crock-Pot.)
Heat a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add the lamb and brown it on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer the lamb to a platter. Add the shallots and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, until they are soft and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add a pinch of salt to the pot, cover, and transfer to the oven.
Roast the lamb for about 5 hours, until the lamb is literally falling apart. Take the lamb out of the oven and let it cool in the pot.
About an hour before you want to eat, take the lamb out of the pot. Cut and remove the twine. Remove as much of the fat as possible and shred the meat into uniform pieces with two forks.
Put the arugula (or your chosen salad green) on a platter and put the shredded lamb on top. Sprinkle with sea salt and the chopped mint. Cut the pomegranate in half. Hold one pomegranate half above the plate and hit the back of it with a wooden spoon to knock out the seeds.
Take the other half of the pomegranate and squeeze its juice over the salad. If you want a juicier, stronger, fruitier salad, add a couple of tablespoons of pomegranate molasses. Scatter the toasted pine nuts and feta cheese over the top, if desired.
Serve the salad while the lamb is still warm (cold lamb fat congeals unappetizingly), with warmed pita on the side.