Lamb is such a tender meat and with many different cuts, lends itself so beautifully to different forms of cooking such as braising, pan frying and long, slow cooking for the less tender cuts such as shoulder or neck.
Roasting, though, is the method of choice for the leg. This can be quick or you can use the long method which rests the lamb for oodles of time, wrapped in a blanket Though many shy away from this, afraid the lamb will not be cooked properly, this creates the most tender lamb ever). The quicker method will still take a few hours depending on the size of the leg.
Lamb is a good bedfellow with several aromatics including rosemary, garlic, parsley and mint so use them when you can
The recipe below is for a leg of lamb with the bone in, having the bone there helps in the cooking of the lamb by retaining heat during resting, it also helps with flavour. Many prefer the bone removed as it makes carving easier. You choose, but preference would always be to keep it in.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1.5kg (3lb 3oz) leg of spring lamb
- 5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
- 2 - 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (lightly rinsed to remove any dust)
- 2 tablespoon soft butter
- 3 tablespoon plain flour
- 1 small glass of white wine
- 750 ml (3 cups) lamb or chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon Redcurrant jelly (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/ gas mark 5
- A couple of hours (or even the night before) remove the lamb from the refrigerator and put into a cool but not cold, place. Always cook the lamb at room temperature, cooking straight from the fridge means the outside of the meat will be cooked long before the centre.
- Cut the garlic cloves into tiny slivers.
- Dry the lamb leg all over with kitchen paper. Then using a small sharp knife, make tiny incisions into the fat of the lamb making sure not to pierce the meat, you are only making small pockets to slip the garlic into. Pop a sliver of garlic into each opening.
- Pour the oil over the lamb and massage over the whole leg then sprinkle with the sea salt.
- Put the lamb into a roomy roasting tray, lay the Rosemary on the top and put into the centre of the hot oven and cook for 1 ½ hours, check from tine to time to make sure the lamb is not burning or cooking too fast on the outside. If so, either reduce the heat of the oven slightly (some ovens run hotter than normal especially when a little older) or, cover loosely with foil.
- Mix the butter with the flour to form a thick paste. Put into the fridge
- Remove the lamb from the oven, place onto a carving plate or dish and cover with foil. Leave the lamb to rest in a warm (but not hot) place for 20 minutes.
- Throw away the rosemary from the roasting tin, and tip away any excess fat. Place the roasting tin over medium heat on the stove top. Bring the meat juices to hot then tip in the wine and stir well with a wooden spoon to collect up any burnt on flavorings.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil then pour through a sieve into a saucepan, bring back to the boil and reduce by one-third. Take the butter-flour paste from the fridge, whisk small pieces into the boiling gravy until the thickness is to your liking. Finally, stir in the redcurrant jelly if using.