Lamb Sandwich with Harissa & Saffron Aioli
Lovingly rubbed, roasted and ever so thinly sliced this Lamb Sandwich with Harissa & Saffron Aioli is packed with warm, fall flavour. Pretty snazzy for a sandwich!
I love the change of seasons, watching white turn to green, then green bursts with colour and blossoms until finally leaves turn and fall as the world becomes shades of grey once again. As the sun shifts so does our palate, from a craving of fresh and light to a desire for hearty and warm. In the kitchen I move from the grill to the oven to create the tastes I crave; long slow stews, roasted meats and colourful fall vegetables.
A boneless leg of lamb, rubbed and roasted became this week’s Lamb Sandwich with Harissa & Saffron Aioli. An undertone of cumin and paprika pick up the subtle heat of a harissa jus, with an earthy saffron aioli making this is a sandwich fit for company.
Really, all you have to do is give the lamb a little love, it pretty much cooks itself.
Lamb Sandwich with Harissa & Saffron Aioli Recipe
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 1 hour
1 boneless leg of lamb, about 3 – 4 pounds (1 – 1.5 kilo) pre-cooked weight
6 hoagie or mini-sub buns, sliced
2 onions, sliced thick
3 teaspoons cumin
3 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil – divided
1/4 – 1/2 cup water – divided
1 tablespoon harissa paste
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 – 3 saffron threads
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
pinch of salt
1. Start with your saffron aioli, so it can infuse with both flavour and colour. Lightly crush saffron threads between your fingertips, add saffron, garlic and salt to mayo, mix well, cover and refrigerate until needed. (For best results, mix your mayo the day prior and allow to stand overnight.)
2. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Next make your spice rub. In a small bowl combine cumin, paprika, salt and pepper, remove one tablespoon of rub and reserve it for the jus. Unwrap you boneless leg of lamb and dry it well with paper towel then rub well with spices. Coat your dutch oven or roasting pan with nonstick spray or a light film of cooking oil and place thickly cut slices of onion in a cluster in the center and sprinkle lightly with any remaining spice rub before placing the lamb on top. Drizzle meat with olive oil and rub it all over with your hands, add about 2 tablespoons of water to the bottom of the pan and cover loosely with tin foil before placing in 350°F oven.
3. Cook for about 30 minutes at 350°F (175°C), then remove the foil and test the internal temperature. If needed add a bit more water to bottom of pan to prevent burning (which I did not do, thus the burnt spices on the bottom the pan, I blame wine) and return to oven, uncovered, to finish.
We like our lamb around the medium-rare mark so we finished this to 140°F and allowed it to rest for three to five minutes before slicing – extra thin. Remember you’re going to toss the sliced meat with the hot jus, so it will cook a bit more when you do that. As a general rule when cooking roasts check the internal temp frequently and remember, it will continue to cook even after it’s removed from the oven. Finish to your desired doneness, lamb temps are as follows: 145 °F (medium rare), 160 °F (medium), or 170 °F (well done).
4. Once leg of lamb is removed from oven and resting, remove and drain onions from the bottom of the pan and reserve warm then rain off about 1/2 cup of cooking juices, being sure to skim the fat. In a pan add your jus, a healthy drizzle of olive oil, the harissa and the remaining tablespoon of spices and bring to a quick boil over medium-high heat before reducing to a simmer.
5. While slicing the lamb, toast your hoagie buns (if desired) then coat both top and bottom with saffron aioli. At the last minute add half your cilantro to the harissa spiced jus then toss the lamb quickly to coat. Place warm lamb immediately on prepared buns and top with slices of warm caramelized onions from the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with a touch of cilantro and serve immediately.
Gypsy Tip: Here we’ve used our favorite Harissa Paste which you can find among the middle eastern foods section in most grocery stores. But if you have the time and (the desire), you can make it from scratch, this is a recipe I’ve used in past.
Gourmet on a bun. Enjoy.