I originally posted this slow-roasted leg of lamb recipe almost a year ago - I was so excited as it was the first of my pics that showed evidence of my having taken a photography course - and since then my photography has been progressing endlessly, as has my experience with post production. Despite the progress, this is still one of my favourite shots, and I thought the recipe would be a good one to share in case you are thinking of cooking lamb this Easter. Many years ago I used to be scared of cooking big hunks of meat, always worried about ending up with a tough result - this method of slow roasting will guarantee you meltingly tender meat that just falls off the bone. Actually my husband must say 'falling off the bone' at least 3 times every time he carves this lamb, so consistently that inevitably the boys are mouthing it with him and rolling their eyes - beautifully predictable from all of them! Any old hoo, this is probably it from me until after Easter. The weather is appalling - rain, gale force winds, power outages - so Waiheke is looking less likely (poo!), but instead I get to hunker down with my family, eat too much and watch movies...ah well, alright then! Have a wonderful Easter, be safe and I hope you get to hang out with people who make you feel happy too.
1 large whole leg of lamb, bone in, at least 2 kilos
8 sprigs rosemary
8 big garlic cloves, peeled
juice of half a lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups red wine, hot water or stock
24 medium small vine tomatoes, still attached
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
At least half an hour before you start, take your lamb out of the fridge. Set the oven temperature to 160˚C (320˚F) and make sure you set the oven rack for the lamb low enough in the oven that you can fit a rack above it, not too close to the top of the oven, for your tomatoes to be added later. Use a small sharp knife to make 8 deep cuts in the top fat-side of the lamb. Poke a garlic clove into each of these holes. Rip off a few bits of rosemary and poke them in the same holes - it will look a bit messy, but no worries. Put the rest of the rosemary in a big roasting dish and lay the leg, fat side up, on top. Squeeze over the lemon juice and season really well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pop into the oven and forget about it for four and a half to five hours. When your lamb has about half an hour left, put the tomatoes in another oven dish, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pop in the oven for around 40 minutes. By the time you have made your (optional) gravy, they should be ready.
After four and a half hours (five if it is truly massive) take the lamb out of the oven, transfer it to a serving dish or board and cover with tin (aluminum) foil, shiny side down, and a tea towel on top, to keep it warm. While it is resting, remove the bits of rosemary that aren't glued to the roasting dish, pour off most of the excess fat and put the roasting pan on the stove top over a low heat. Add the flour (less or more depending on how thick you like your gravy) and use a wooden spoon to stir the flour around the pan, digging up all the brown bits which carry all of the flavour. Once this forms a paste slowly add your liquid, stirring all the time, and cooking until a smooth, rich gravy is formed. Season well with sae salt and freshly ground black pepper. If the gravy misbehaves just whisk it into submission until it de-lumps...I promise it will work. Traditionally hot cooking water from the likes of drained minted peas is used for a gravy, so this is an option as is the red wine, for a richer, darker gravy. Once the gravy is made your tomatoes will be ready - and it's time to carve! I served this for Mother's Day last year with crispy roasted potatoes crusted in polenta, and zucchini and beans with garlic, lemon and parsley, and another time recently with watercress and beetroot salad, roasted baby carrots and celeriac and potato mash....the options are endless :) Serves 8