STUFFED & ROLLED
What’s cooking today: Slow-roasted stuffed lamb or mutton flap
The lamb or mutton flap, sometimes called boneless flank and known in Afrikaans as the ‘lieslap’, is often discarded as useless. But stuff it, roll it and cook it slowly for hours, and you have a fine meal.
When the seasonal lamb arrived in a box from my farmer mate Louwrence Lombard, I opened it up and squinted at the flat piece of something resembling vaguely meaty skin and climbed onto WhatsApp to ask him what it was. Dis die lieslap, he said; “I used to remove it but now I put it in the box for you.”
In much of the world it’s called a lamb (or mutton) flap, though if it retained its serried bones it would be ribs. Imagine the bones have been prised out, leaving a thin layer of fat and meat. It’s potentially tough and requires long, slow cooking. Ideal, then, for stuffing and tying up, then cooking in a real mellow way for much of the afternoon.
For my stuffing, I used spinach, pitted green manzanilla olives and plenty of toasted cumin seeds; cumin, you may have noticed, has become a favourite spice of mine for lamb and mutton. You need to keep it well moistened with olive oil for the long cook. Also retain the brine from the green olives to add to the sauce later on, and make sure you have some good quality balsamic vinegar to hand.
1 x 750 g boneless lamb or mutton flap, aka boneless flank or lieslap
3 or 4 spinach leaves, about the same size as the flap when laid out flat
70 g pitted green manzanilla olives
The brine from the sachet or jar of olives
1 round of feta, crumbled
1 Tbsp toasted cumin seeds
1 tsp crushed garlic powder
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Olive oil, as needed
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
A glass of dry white wine
2 tsp of cornflour dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 160℃.
Toast the cumin seeds lightly in a dry pan; if they start to smoke, take it off the heat immediately.
Even though the flap or flank is a thin piece of meat, it needs slow cooking to break it down to tender perfection, so you’ll need about two and a half hours in a 160℃ oven.
Season the flank on both sides with salt (lightly as it is so thin) and black pepper. Lay it out, fat side up, on a large board.
Lay the spinach leaves out to cover it as well as you can, piled on top of one another. Scatter the toasted cumin seeds all over and sprinkle with garlic powder.
Lay out all the olives about 3 cm away from one end (the end from which you will roll it up).
Crumble the feta along the olives, evenly. Drizzle a little olive oil along the olives and feta.
Grind black pepper all over, then begin rolling it up from the end nearest the olives and feta.
Once it’s rolled, push long strands of kitchen string under in five or six places, carefully pull each of them tight and tie. Snip off extraneous string.
Once stuffed, rolled and secured, brown the rolled lamb flap evenly all over in olive oil in a suitable oven pan, on a moderately high heat.
Transfer to the preheated oven and roast for about two and a half hours.
In a small pot, reduce the olive brine by half with a half cup of dry white wine and 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and deglaze the pan with this while the meat is resting. Stir in 2 tsp of cornflour dissolved in 2 Tbsp water and simmer stirring until it thickens. Serve with something hearty such as polenta or mashed potato, with plenty of that sauce. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
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