Simple roasting is a traditional way to prepare spring lamb, but when it is slow roasted with a pungent garlic, parsley, and bacon stuffing and served with a good sauce, it is elevated to a gift from the gods.
This recipe is delicious served hot—maybe as part of your Sunday Roast—but it also makes a lovely cold cut for sandwiches and light lunches, so always cook a large leg giving you plenty of leftovers.
Easter typically falls in early spring and is the traditional time when lamb is served but, without a doubt, the best time to eat lamb is late spring onward. In the early summer and onward, salt marsh lamb is what to look for and which works really well with this recipe.
- 2.5 pounds/1.2 kg boneless half leg of lamb (3.3 pounds/1.5 kg if bone is still in)
- Large handful of flat-leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
- 3 large cloves garlic (finely sliced)
- 2.5 ounces/70 g pancetta or bacon (cubed)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 5 ounces/150 ml red wine (good-quality)
- 3.5 ounces/100 ml veal stock (or beef stock)
- 2 teaspoons cold butter (cut into tiny pieces)
- Heat the oven to 350 F/170 C/Gas Mark 4. Remove string from the leg of lamb and open out the joint, skin side down. Slash any thicker parts of meat, so the joint lies flat on the board.
- If you have bought your lamb with bone in, you will need to cut down the side of the bone to create a cavity for the stuffing. You can, of course, ask your butcher to do this for you.
- Evenly sprinkle the parsley, garlic, and pancetta over the surface, and then sprinkle generously with the olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Roll the joint back up and tie securely with kitchen string.
- Place the joint into a large roasting pan and cook for 1 hour (rare) or 1 hour and 15 minutes for medium. Tightly wrap the joint in foil and let rest for 10 mins. (Add 20 minutes to both the roasting time and resting time for bone-in lamb.)
- Meanwhile, carefully pour off any fat from the roasting pan and place it over medium heat on top of the stove. Carefully pour in the wine, scraping up all the juices stuck on the bottom and reduce to a sticky glaze.
- Add the veal or beef stock to the roasting pan, stir well and reduce by half. Strain through a fine sieve into a small saucepan and add the butter and shake the pan gently until all the butter is absorbed. Check and adjust the seasoning.
- Slice the lamb and serve immediately on a bed of wilted spring greens, surrounded by the sauce.