How to cook two Spanish Easter recipes from José Pizarro: barbecued shoulder of lamb and golden cutlets

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Iconic Spanish chef José Pizarro has shared two special lamb recipes ahead of Easter.

Easter cooking brings to mind families tucking in to succulent lamb around the dining table. And there's no one better to get tips from than the godfather of Spanish cooking in the UK, José Pizarro.

The Spaniard, who hails from Extremadura, has been treating Londoners to fantastic Iberian food for almost 25 years, with eponymous tapas bar and restaurant in bustling Bermondsey, as well as eateries at the Royal Academy and in Surrey. He will be treating guests at Pizarro and The Swan Inn to two very special, off-menu dishes that evoke all the delicious freshness and conviviality of the season, and conjure memories of his own family’s Easter celebrations.

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On Good Friday at The Swan, José will be serving traditional Bacalao a la Llauna and on Easter Sunday at Pizarro, Spanish Rice with Lamb Cutlets - a mouth-watering paella with the meat so tender it falls off the bone. And if you can't make it to the restaurant, José has kindly shared the recipes for two Spanish Easter lamb dishes you can try at home.

Barbecued shoulder of lamb with olive and herb crust and escalivada and potato parcel

Serves six

Takes two hours

José says: "Barbecuing seems to be more popular than ever before, and it’s not just for summer. We are learning how important it is to spend time outdoors and be with our family and friends – and there’s no better way to do that than cooking.

"Cooking on a barbecue often makes me think about the way humans first started to cook over fire. I like to think someone was just looking at the fire one day and thought: ‘How much better would it be to put the food on there?’

"I’m sure there are studies to read about how it happened, but I just want to thank whoever came up with the idea – because it is one of the best joys in life."

José Pizarro’s barbecued lamb shoulder. Credit: José PizarroJosé Pizarro’s barbecued lamb shoulder. Credit: José Pizarro
José Pizarro’s barbecued lamb shoulder. Credit: José Pizarro | José Pizarro

Ingredients

  • 175 g (6 oz) pitted green olives 
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 cured anchovies
  • large handful of flat-leaf parsley 
  • 5 lemon thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • small handful of fresh mint
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2–2.2 kg (4 lb 8 oz–5 lb 8 oz) lamb shoulder, boned 
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Escalivada and potato parcel

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  • 900 g (2 lb) new potatoes, thickly sliced
  • 1 red onion, cut into thin wedges 
  • 190g (61⁄2 oz) roasted red peppers from a jar
  • 2 aubergines (eggplants), cut into small cubes
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives

Recipe

Put the olives, lemon zest, garlic, anchovies, herbs and olive oil in a food processor and pulse to form a paste. Season well. Spread all over the inside and outside of the lamb shoulder and set aside while you light the barbecue.

Light your coals and set up the barbecue for indirect cooking (this means the coals are on either side of the barbecue, leaving the middle free). Place a drip tray in the centre of the barbecue below the grill, between the two areas of coals, to catch the fat. You want an initial temperature of about 200–220°C (400–425°F), which will then drop to about 170°C (340°F). You need enough coals for a good couple of hours’ cooking at about 170°C (340°F).

Place the lamb in the centre of the barbecue on the grill. Cover and cook for 11⁄2–2 hours, allowing the temperature to drop as described above. Meanwhile, arrange two large pieces of kitchen foil on a work surface in a cross shape. Pile all the potato parcel ingredients, except the chives, into the centre and season well. Bring up the sides up to form a parcel.

After the lamb has cooked for an hour or so, put the parcel next to it over some of the hot coals. Cover the barbecue once more and continue cooking. Once the lamb is tender, remove it from the barbecue and rest for at least 10 minutes. Open the potato parcel and scatter with chives, then serve with the lamb.

Lamb cutlets with courgette salad. Credit: José PizarroLamb cutlets with courgette salad. Credit: José Pizarro
Lamb cutlets with courgette salad. Credit: José Pizarro | José Pizarro

Golden lamb cutlets with lemon courgette salad

Serves four

Takes 40 minutes plus overnight marinating

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José says: "This is a favourite dish of my mum’s – in fact, everyone at home loves it. Normally, you would just cook the cutlets on the grill or barbecue, but here I’ve fried them for a lovely, crispy finish.

"These tasty cutlets are great for a picnic as they taste just as good cold, dipped in mayonnaise. We’ve used baby lamb here; if you use older lamb, you might prefer to trim off some of the fat. But, as I always say, in the fat is the flavour."

Ingredients

  • 2 x 6-rib French trimmed racks of spring lamb, sliced into cutlets (chops)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus
  • 75 ml (21⁄2 fl oz/5 tablespoons) for frying
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 lemon thyme sprigs
  • 2 garlic cloves, bashed
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, bashed in a pestle and mortar 
  • 2 handfuls of plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten 
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon courgette salad

  • 4 courgettes (zucchini), thinly sliced lengthways
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried chilli (hot pepper) flakes
  • 200 g (7 oz) freshly shelled peas 
  • 200 g (7 oz) freshly shelled broad (fava) beans
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • handful mint leaves
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 g (31⁄2 oz) fresh cows’ cheese (page 38), or you can use crumbled feta or crumbled goats’ cheese

Recipe

Arrange the lamb cutlets in a large dish. In a small bowl, combine the three tablespoons of olive oil with the lemon zest and juice, lemon thyme, garlic and coriander seeds. Pour this mixture over the lamb and season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.

The next day, heat the 75 ml (21⁄2 fl oz/5 tablespoons) oil in a large pan over a high heat until it shimmers. Remove the lamb from the marinade. Place the flour in a shallow bowl and season, and have the beaten eggs ready in a second bowl.

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Working in batches, dip the cutlets in the seasoned flour and then the egg, and then place them straight into the hot oil. Fry for 2–3 minutes, then turn and fry on the other side until golden brown. Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm while you fry the remaining cutlets.

Meanwhile, make the salad. Toss the courgettes (zucchini) in a large bowl with the oil and chilli (hot pepper) flakes. Place a griddle pan over a high heat and sear the courgette slices on both sides, then tip into a serving bowl. Blanch the peas and broad (fava) beans in boiling water for 2–3 minutes, then drain and add to the serving bowl, along with the rest of the salad ingredients. Toss to combine, then season and serve with the golden lamb cutlets.

World Tapas Day

As well as his Easter bonanza, José will be celebrating World Tapas Day on 20 June as the godfather of tapas in the UK. "I am thrilled to share the joy of tapas with Londoners on World Tapas Day," said José.

"It's a celebration of Spain's culinary heritage and the spirit of sharing good food and company. I invite everyone to join us at our restaurants and experience the essence of Spanish cuisine right here in London.” Highlights from across his menus include anchoas de Santoña "Reserva Catalina" (Cantabrian salted anchovies in olive oil), chorizo al vino (slow cooked chorizo in red wine with quince) and buñuelos de gambas (Spicy prawn fritters with lemon allioli).

Find out more about José's Easter deals and World Tapas Day specials here.

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