It is a rainy and grey Sunday in London today, and after coming home from a 4 hour photography class in the elements (in an attempt to get my snaps to a new level), I was in need of a great bottle of red and something hearty to eat for dinner. I chose a beautiful 2kg leg of New Zealand lamb, and stocked up on some root veggies for roasting.
With large glass of red firmly in hand, I made my garlic and rosemary paste to smear over the lamb. Although I used a mortar and pestle for this task, if you don’t have one, the end of a rolling pin and a sturdy bowl will do the trick nicely. This would serve 6 quite happily, but we tend to eat a LOT in this house of two, and we also love cold meat (and roast veggies) as left overs.
Before I used the rosemary sprigs that I had picked from our garden, I held them over the sink and poured boiling water all over them. My husband asked me if I was cleaning them, and it reminded me that I ought to mention what it was all about. Whenever using woody/stalky herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano etc, it is a great idea to pour a little boiling water over them to bring out their flavour (and yes it will also clean them nicely too). If you do this with soft stalked herbs like basil, it will just make them wilt. With your rosemary, take a good sniff of the sprigs before and after doing this, and you will realize how much aroma (and flavour) the scalding water will release.
This lamb was cooked on a wire wrack directly on top of the vegetables so that all the juices from the meat would drip over the veggies while they cooked. I don’t have an oven wire tray, but I used a wire rack that I placed directly over the vegetable roasting dish to achieve the same effect and it worked perfectly, so as always, just make do with you what you have got.
For the lamb:
- 2 kg leg of lamb
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 3 sprigs of rosemary, blanched and leaves removed.
- zest of 1 lime
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon rock/anglesey salt
For the vegetables:
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and in chunks
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and in chunks
- 4 carrots
- 4 parsnips
- 6 gloves garlic, skin left on
- 4 sprigs rosemary, blanched but left whole
Heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius, leaving the wire wrack and roasting tray inside while you do. Wash the lamb, trim off any excessive fat and pat it dry. Slash some gashes into the lamb with a sharp knife.
In a mortar and pestle (or bowl and rolling pin device substitute) pound together the 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, leaves of 3 blanched rosemary stalks, and the lemon and lime zest. Scoop this out and push it into the lamb gashes and all over the meat. Salt and pepper the meat once more.
Parboil the potatoes for 6 minutes. (Parboiling is partially cooking something by boiling it) Remove and drain the potatoes and then put the lid on the saucepan and “shake it all about”. This is also known as ‘smashing’ the potatoes, it gives them edges that get all crusty and fabulous when you roast them…thank you Jamie Oliver for making this technique a standard in roasting! (In fact the idea of cooking the roast over the vegetables is also one I saw him do, but I would only do this with a leanish cut of meat or you will have too much fat dripping on to your vegetables.)
Take the roasting dish out of the oven and toss in all the cut vegetables, the 6 whole cloves of garlic and the whole sprigs of rosemary. Salt and pepper it on the top. You can add a few sprays of olive oil if you wish, but the dripping from the meat will suffice if not. Put the vegetable tray in the bottom shelf of the oven and place the lamb above it on the wire wrack.
Cook for 1 hour for pink meat in the middle, or 1 hour 15-20 minutes for well done meat. Take the lamb out and wrap it in tinfoil for 10 minutes while you turn the vegetables over in the tray and move them higher in the oven to crisp a little more.
I served ours with a packet lamb gravy (which was actually really good!) and some steamed broccoli. It was soooooo tasty we didn’t end up with nearly as much left over as we should have?!?! Next time I make this I will DOUBLE the garlic and rosemary paste I made and well and truly smother the lamb with it. You would not need a gravy if you do this as this paste is just so delicious on its own…but then garlic and I are close friends…if you and garlic on not on great terms, stick to the above!