October 3rd, 2010
Roasting Lamb is fairly simple and probably easier to get right than the gravy or roast potatoes.
In this country, most of the lamb which you buy in spring comes from New Zealand, because our lambs are born in winter/spring, therefore British lamb, bought in spring time is most likely to be from the year before. British lamb is more often found in summer and winter. Quite a lot of sheep are out grazing on mountains and hill tops both from home and New Zealand, so it should be relatively free range, or at least well fed on grass. The New Zealand example of sending hundreds of hardy sheep out to graze on mountain tops is being copied extensively here lately. It’s worth noting that British, salt marsh lamb can be particularly good.
Supermarket lamb should be reasonable, though it’s unlikely to have been hung properly, like a good butcher would do. It’s worth noting that you can buy very good lamb direct from the farmer at most farmers’ markets in Britain. It’s not cheap, but it should be very high quality and it’s nice to meet the people who raised the lambs.
Roast Lamb recipe:
A leg or shoulder of lamb
lots of garlic
lots of rosemary
sea salt and cracked black pepper
Make sure your lamb has been out of the fridge for several hours and at room temperature. Rub some olive oil into your baking tray, for flavour and to stop the lamb sticking. With a small, sharp knife, poke holes into your lamb joint. Stuff little pieces of garlic and sprigs of rosemary into these holes (on both sides of your lamb), rub in some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. I haven’t tried this, but, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recommends using little pieces of anchovy instead of the salt – it sounds quite good, though Uncle Monty wouldn’t approve.
Pre heat your oven to about 230º C, cook your lamb at that temperature for the first half hour, baste it with it’s own juices and then add a couple of glasses of red wine – this adds to the flavour of the lamb and the gravy. Turn the oven down to about 170º C for the duration of the cooking and baste occasionally. I’d recommend cooking for about 15 minutes per pound plus an extra 15 minutes – this should produce a nice, medium rare joint, which is a little pink in the middle. It is quite safe to have medium and rare lamb – it’s pork and chicken which should be well cooked to kill off bacteria and germs. Ovens can be very different and normally you get used to the way one particular model cooks, after cooking a few joints of meat etc.
Let your lamb rest for up to 30 minutes, wrap it up to keep it warm while you make gravy with the juices. See my gravy recipe. Roast lamb goes well with roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and mint sauce.
Do use the bone to make stock afterwards, which can be used with any leftovers to make shepherds pie, moussaka, etc.