Sunday, 29 April 2012

Olive Magazine Roast Lemon and Thyme Lamb

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been staying with my mum and asked if she might be so kind this weekend as to let me cook roast lamb for the family sunday lunch.  I've mentioned before that I have an aversion to eating lamb products.  It's not really anything to do with any veggie tendencies, more that I was probably scarred for life in the eighties by Bernard Matthews' Lamb Roasts.  I blogged about this trauma a while back so won't repeat it again, but if you're interested, you can read about it here.

Lunch. Mum's roasties are ace :)
The need to do this was akin to the cravings I had when I was expecting Miss A.  I never craved anything really random but I'd be struck by moments when I absolutely had to eat something - the one I remember is my grandmother's homemade scotch eggs - but by the time I got said food, it made my stomach roil.  It was the same with the lamb.  When I made Dan Lepard's Perfect Plain Pita the other day, the idea of stuffing it full of cold roast lamb, tzatziki and salad got me all excited.  Yet this morning, when I was faced with having to remove a couple of kilos of lamb leg from its bloody resting place and stab it full of holes to stuff with lemon and thyme, my stomach persuaded my brain it wasn't such a bright idea.

I'm one of those meat eaters who will eat meat so long as it doesn't look like the thing it came from.  The easiest way to turn me veggie would be to demand that I look at a picture of the cute fluffy thing it once was before tucking in to my dinner.  My mother traumatised me further as a child (as if the Matthews roasts weren't enough) by once chasing me round our lounge with a fish that still had its head on, beady eyes staring balefully at me, before taking it into the kitchen and cleaving its head off in one clean move with the massive butchers knife she kept for such occasions.  After that I'd only eat fish fingers because with the logic that only a six-year-old can have, they quite clearly won't made from fish.

Oven ready
Anyhow, once I got over myself and cooked the lamb, and rejoiced in being allowed to make the matching gravy rather than using good old Bisto I got to sit down to a really lovely roast lamb lunch that I would happily eat again.  Well I would cook it again if I'd not had to drive back over Salisbury Plain watching all the sad, bedraggled lambs trying to gaily skip through quagmires.  I'm not sure if I'd feel more guilty eating a lamb who lived through this miserable spring or one who had the fortune to gambol amongst daffodils during one of our rare, sun-shiny Springs.

When I was small and we used to go out in the car, my grandfather taught me to shout 'mint sauce' when we passed a field of sheep and 'Yorkshire puddings' on passing cows.  When I realised what he meant, I went through a phase of only eating peanut butter sandwiches and eschewing any meat that wasn't mechanically recovered (six-year-old fish finger logic at work here).  Miss A was happily bleating from the rear of the car today every time we passed a field of sheep.  I am in no doubt that the child who happily ripped the head from the dog on her birthday cake (and swallowed it in one bite) will have any problems with whether or not to eat meat when she's older.

Back to the lamb, it got rave reviews from all the family so it wasn't sacrificed in vain.  I only hope it's other legs were treated so kindly in the afterlife.

As far as I know, my mum just normally shoves her lamb in the oven completely 'naked'.  It then gets slathered with mint sauce (something else I can't stand after overeating it as a child).  So the idea of giving my fussy grandfather lamb with lemon in it, no mint sauce and gravy that wasn't Bisto was quite daunting.  But he ate it, had seconds and even commented that he'd liked the lemony bits.  Result!

Resting before dinner
My mum enjoyed it so much that she asked if she could comment on the blog when I'd written it.  So hopefully she won't be too mad at me for revealing my childhood traumas to all and sundry.  And she'd told me I'm even allowed to go back again if I cook a Sunday roast like that again.  She'll have to wait another few months for that yet because I've still got around 150 posts to write for this blog.  She's going to be subjected to Beef Wellington next time.

Oh and we ate the rest of yesterday's Cinnamon and Blackberry cake for pudding.  Kept really well in the fridge overnight - wasn't covered up and still just as soft as yesterday.  Top eating weekend had by all.

Recipe - serves 6 From Olive Magazine

  • 3 onions cut into large rings
  • olive oil
  • 1 lemon , zest peeled off and cut into 15-20 pieces
  • 3 large sprigs thyme , broken into 15-20 small sprigs
  • leg of lamb about 1.75kg

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Put the onion rings and garlic halves in a roasting tray with 4 tbsp water. Sit the lamb on top and rub the surface of the meat with oil.
  2. Stab the skin side of the lamb 15-20 times with a small, sharp knife, twisting to make small holes. Stuff the lemon zest and thyme sprigs into the holes. Season well.
  3. Roast for 1 hour 15 minutes for medium rare, 1 hour 30 minutes for medium, 1 hour 45 minutes for medium-well done and 2 hours for well done. Baste the lamb 3-4 times with the juices in the base of the tin as it cooks.
  4. Once cooked, rest on a plate or board for 20-30 minutes under foil. 

For the Gravy

Pour excess fat from the tin, then sit it on the hob over a high heat. Stir 1 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly into the onions until the jelly melts. Add 175ml red wine. Boil for 30 seconds, add 350ml stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened slightly. Season then strain through a sieve.

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