Across the world roast lamb has a cultural place in the homes and hearts of all meat eaters. So many variations and all delicious, however they are prepared. In our home I am a fan of a wet Greek style roast lamb cooked long and slow with tomatoes until the lamb is so meltingly tender it can almost be eaten with a teaspoon. The only addition required is some cooked orzo stirred through the tomato gravy and salty feta cheese crumbled over the top until it amalgamate in with all the delicious lamb juices. My second favourite is a Provencal style wet roast studded with rosemary, garlic and anchovies, wrapped tightly in parchment paper so it cooks slowly and sweats in all the divine juices. All you need to serve this with is some nutty, cooked barley, cherry tomatoes and lightly steamed silverbeet, a little shaving of parmesan cheese over the top is lovely. I am forever on the search for new ways to roast a lamb leg.
These holidays my darling husband has been requesting a traditional lamb roast. A harking back to a New Zealand tradition of meat and three vegetables and accompanied with a mint sauce; perhaps gravy. Traditional does not have to mean dry overcooked meat and boring over boiled grey old vegetable. I couldn’t help myself when I made this so decided to jazz it up a little.
I used a Rachel Allen easy meals cookbook recipe as a guide. She recommended slicing potatoes, red onions and parsnips and tossing together in the roasting tin with olive oil, adding finely chopped rosemary and season. I then lay the seasoned lamb leg over the top of the vegetables and roasted in a preheated 180c oven for 1 1/2 hours. Once the lamb was done I rested it and increased the heat to finish the potatoes in a hot 220c oven. All the lamb juices soaked into the potatoes and went lovely and crispy. This easy to make mint sauce – 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint, 1 heaped tbsp caster sugar, 50 ml boiling water, 1 tbsp lemon juice – stir and sit for 10 minutes; made all the difference to the meal as only fresh mint can. The sides were green beans lightly steamed and then tossed with toasted almonds and sateued garlic and anchovies for a great savoury flavour. The carrots were roasted with the meat in a separate tin with maple syrup, olive oil and sea salt and pepper. I am with Nigel Slater when it comes to cooking and savouring the rustic crispy sticky pieces. This roast was superb.