Scrag end is an ugly but incredible piece of meat – but you have to work to reap the benefits. It’s the clump of vertebrae immediately behind the lamb’s skull. Once you’ve removed the lamb neck fillet, you’re left with the scrag – a very flavoursome, and very cheap cut indeed. To make the most of it, it’s best cooked long and slow, ideally in a slow cooker, on LOW, for 8-10 hours. This separates the meat from the bone so you can just pick off the best bits for use in stews, casseroles or, in this case Scrag End of Lamb Biryani. It is well worth the effort trust me.
For the lamb
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Golf ball-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
250g natural Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp garam masala powder or biryani masala (my friend Liam brought me back a very tasty blend from his travels around India recently)
For the rice
2 tbsp ghee
2 cups basmati rice, parboiled for 5 mins, until al dente
2 tbsp warm milk
Quarter tsp saffron strands (optional)
Half small onion, finely chopped
300ml lamb stock (reserved from cooking the lamb)
4 green cardomoms
4 whole cloves
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (optional – I’d run out!)
1 tbsp sultanas or raisins
1 tbsp almonds, halved
1. Put the scrag end, garlic, ginger, yoghurt and masala in a freezer bag. Massage thoroughly and leave in the fridge overnight.
2. The next day, add the lamb and the marinade to a slow cooker, along with the water, and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, until the meat is very, very tender. Remove from the cooker and allow to cool, then with your fingers or a knife and fork, tear off chunks of meat from the bone. Reserve the stock.
3. Add the ghee to a large frying pan and gently cook the onion for around 5 mins, until softened. Add the rice and stir through. Add the meat stock, milk and saffron (if using) and bring to the boil.
4. Strain the rice through a sieve, reserving the stock.
5. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. In a deep baking dish, place a layer of rice (about half), top with the cardomoms, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon stick (if using), then layer on the lamb filling.
6. Top with the remaining rice and pour over the reserved stock. Cover with tin foil and cook in the oven for 1 hour.
7. Once cooked, garnish with sultanas and almonds and serve.