Two days ago I cooked two quarters of a lamb (it would be like half), in a tray, in the oven. One of the trays, with the lamb in it, is in the photo below.
How did I do it? Extremely simple. I cleaned the meat from the impurities left by the butcher, I rubbed coarse salt on it, I wrapped it in parsley, ramson, green onions, I also put under it a few gloves of garlic with skin, I covered the tray with aluminum foil and put it in the oven. A usual, home use oven, with basic settings (temperature/time/ventilation/top-bottom baking). I set the oven at 140 degrees Celsius (the temperature can vary with 5-10 degrees depending on the oven, or an oven can cook faster on one side, and so on, but these are things you can learn by cooking with the same oven). I let the lamb roast under the foil for six hours, then I removed the foil and let it in the oven for another hour. Once that hour passed, I could have taken the lamb out of the oven, but I decided not to and take the roasting further. That meant three more hours of roasting, until the guests arrives. Bottom roasting, no ventilation. If the lamb were in danger of becoming dry or burnt, obviously I would have stopped the roasting or I would have lowered the temperature (at 80-100 degrees, you can cook a lamb in 36-40 hours without difficulty). While it was roasting, I poured half a bottle of wine into each tray, after I had removed the foil, and I hydrated the lamb three times with the mixture of wine and meat juice that formed in the tray, helping myself with a spoon.
For many Romanians nowadays, slow cooking is a mystery, a source of wonder and a good opportunity of saying “spare me this nonsense!” or “come on, enough already!”. Why would you cook a piece of meat for 10 hours when it can be eaten after 3? But why would you cook it for 36 hours if you can eat it after 3? Basically, for the same reason we cook carrots, when we might as well eat them raw. For the taste that develops in time, for the tenderness, for the complex flavors which can’t appear during fast cooking. Can 150 degrees Celsius ruin a piece of meat? No, but you can, if you don’t know how to handle it, if you’re not paying attention or if you don’t care. Assuming you don’t tick any of the mentioned criteria, you will see that that the universe is much broader than you thought or you imagined (imagination works only on the knowledge we accumulated). You may reach the conclusion that it’s not worth it, but at least you’ll know for sure. And speaking of consumption+effort, the Crock-pot may be a great solution, as it can cook for tens of hours in a row at a lower temperature than an oven (from 65 to 100 degrees Celsius), without requiring your involvement during the process (an oven will require that because of the above mentioned reasons). You can learn all about the slow-cooker from a future post, in which I will show you a different way of cooking lamb for Easter dinner.