In many parts of the world it’s traditional to have lamb at Easter so, like many others everywhere, we’ll most likely follow that tradition. Hopefully the weather may be kind so we can enjoy the summery nights sitting outside with lamb cooking on the barbecue.
When I thought about how I’d cooked lamb recently I realised that I hadn’t done anything Mediterranean. The beauty of this is the small number of ingredients and how fast it is to put together. When I bought my lamb I thought I’d bought a small leg with the whole bone in. However when I got home I found that I’d picked up a champagne leg which, like champagne ham, is mostly boned with a small part of shank bone left. I ended up being glad I’d done that as it meant the marinade flavoured the meat more.
Leg of lamb
1 bottle red wine (make it medium to full bodied)
Several sprigs of fresh rosemary, roughly broken up and lightly crushed
Sprigs of fresh oregano or 2 tbsps dried oregano
Juice of 2 lemons
5-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Olive oil – 3-4 tbsps
Extra sprigs of rosemary and oregano
2 heads of garlic
Baby potatoes, washed
Baby red onions, peeled
2 cups chicken or lamb stock
Salt and pepper
The day before or at least 6-7 hours before cooking, put all the marinade ingredients in a dish large enough to comfortably hold the leg of lamb. Using the sharp point of a small knife make a few slits all over the lamb. Tuck some of the herbs and garlic into and around the lamb. Cover and refrigerate. Turn the lamb over from time to time.
At least an hour before you’re going to start cooking take the lamb out of the fridge. Heat the oven or barbecue to 200°C. If using the barbecue, drizzle a little oil in a large foil roasting dish or, if cooking in the oven use a large oven dish. Place the lamb in the dish, most of the herbs from the marinade and freshly cut herbs if you have more. Season with salt and pepper. Also place the two heads of garlic in the dish and 2-3 baby red onions per person. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in the barbecue or oven.
After 15-20 minutes toss the baby potatoes in oil and place around the lamb. Cook for another 60 minutes turning the potatoes and onions once. Once the lamb is done to your liking remove it from the oven, cover with foil and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. I like to have the lamb pink. (Note: a barbecue temperature is normally less accurate than an oven so I’d guess the lamb will cook more quickly in the oven and you may need to turn the temperature down.)
While the lamb is cooking put the marinade in a pot to make the sauce to go with the lamb. Simmer until it’s reduced by half to two thirds. This will take a while. Then add the stock and continue to reduce until it’s all reduced to about a cup. You may need to add a little sugar or honey depending on how acidic it tastes. Squeeze the soft flesh from the heads of garlic and whisk it into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and keep it warm until you’re ready to serve.
Carve the lamb and serve with the potatoes and onions, a green vegetable or salad and offer the red wine sauce on the side.