Hello! My name is Hannah and I’m a second year Nutritional Sciences student at Manchester Metropolitan University, and I’ve been involved with MetMUnch since the very beginning of my first year.
This is the first entry in a series I am starting with MetMUnch called Challenge Hannah. Each week, MetMUnch will set me a challenge brief for a meal to invent that can be cooked for myself and my family. I will talk you through what I have cooked and why, and any nutritional benefits of the food I am eating!
As I am Welsh, the challenge for week 1 is to cook a meal based around WALES. (I also used this as a belated Father’s Day dinner.)
There are a few dishes that are known for being Welsh, such as Welsh rarebit and cawl (a type of soup with meat and vegetables). However, I wanted to concoct my own meal. After some research, the meal I chose to cook was slow roasted Welsh lamb, with Welsh cheddar cheesy leeks, roasted welsh potatoes and gravy (of course).
I am consciously trying to reduce my meat consumption and bringing my family along with me; we try and cook vegetarian meals for dinner once or twice a week. However, being from a strong farming community and seeing first-hand how farmers care for their animals and how much their livelihoods depend on the them, I can also appreciate eating meat.
The Welsh leg of lamb we bought is from our local butcher, and we try to buy our meat locally as much as possible. I chose lamb for this dish as Wales is famous for having more sheep than people! I seasoned it simply with rosemary (Welsh, from the garden), olive oil, salt (Welsh, Halen Mon Anglesey Sea Salt) and pepper, and roasted it for 4 hours, low and slow.
As I mentioned, I paired the meat with Welsh Dragon cheesy leeks. Leeks are well known for being a symbol of Wales, along with the daffodil and the history of them in Wales can be tracked back at least 700 years, they are even referenced in Shakespeare’s writing.
Leeks are a source of Vitamin K. The daily recommended value of vitamin K is roughly 1ug/kg body weight. One cup of cooked leeks (150g) contains 26.4ug of vitamin K. I roasted these in a cheesy sauce made with the Welsh cheddar along with some Welsh potatoes from Pembrokeshire.
The cheese is made from 100% Welsh milk from 130 farms! Furthermore, these potatoes have Protected Geographic Indication status which means the product must be traditionally and at least partly manufactured within a specific region and have distinctive characteristics.
Finally, I used the juices from the lamb to create a delicious gravy to be poured over the top.
The lamb was melt in your mouth tender and just fell apart, the Welsh cheddar in the leeks had a lovely tang, the potatoes were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the gravy was thick and rich.
10/10 I would cook again! If you would like to try it yourself then here is the recipe!
(Feeds 4 with leftovers)
1. Preheat oven to 140°C and rub your lamb in 2tbsp olive oil, 1tsp salt and 1tsp black pepper. Use a knife or a sharp object to make a hole in the lamb skin which you can then stick your rosemary sprigs in. Place in a tray slightly bigger than the meat, but not much bigger, with high enough sides to prevent juice overflow.
2. Cover in foil and stick in the oven and roast for 4 hours
3. About an hour before the lamb is done, peel and chop your roast potatoes into nice big chunks. I do 1-2 potatoes per person depending on the size. Maris pipers are best but any will do! Par boil in boiling water for about 10-15 mins until a knife goes in smoothly.
Drain in a colander and leave to steam dry. Once dry, pour into a tray and give them a good shake so that the edges rough up a bit, this will give you really nice extra crispy bits! Pour over a couple of tbsps olive oil to ensure they’re all covered, and roast in the oven for 45 mins.
4. Once in the oven you can start on your leeks, I used 3. Once all the mud is off, remove the outer layer and chop off the bottom end and any dark, tough looking bits at the top. Cut in half lengthways and then chop into 3cm pieces. Fry over a medium heat with a knob of butter and tbsp olive oil until they’re soft and start to caramelise.
5. Meanwhile you can make your roux. Put 1 ounce butter and 1 ounce flour in a pan over a medium heat and mix. Once combined, add ½ pint milk gradually, stirring continuously to ensure no lumps. Grate plenty of cheese and stir in until melted. ½ a tsp of English mustard is good to add in at this point too if you like it!
6. Transfer the leeks to a dish, add the sauce on top and stir in, and put more grated cheese over the top (I didn’t say it was low calorie…)
7. This can go in the oven for about 15 minutes when the lamb comes out to rest. Crank the heat up to 180°C to finish off the potatoes.
8. The cheesy leeks should start to brown and if not, you can put them under the grill for about 2 minutes right at the end to finish them off.
9. Leave the meat to rest in the roasting dish for 10-15 minutes. Drain off the juices into a saucepan and put over the heat. Skim off any fat if necessary. Add a good glug of red wine and 4tsp beef gravy granules to thicken. If there are any sticky bits of meat left in the roasting tray add those in too!
*optional* once the meat is rested, finish it on the bbq for some extra nice gnarly bits.
10. Carve the meat once rested and bring out the potatoes and leeks from the oven/grill. Pour the gravy into a jug, and you’re good to go.
Hannah has recently started her own Instagram account, follow her here – https://www.instagram.com/onthemenu2night/