Roast lamb and vegetables

Roasting, writes Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, requires a set of principles rather than a collection of recipes. Roasting principles that ring bells for this meal are two: sizzling and resting, of which, more later.

Roast lamb and vegetables
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For the lamb, you will need:

  • A leg of lamb (2kg)
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Salt

The master blockman who attended to my order swiftly deboned the leg and fitted an elasticised net which held the delicious ball of meat in shape. The bone was cut into sections which I used for the stock.

Start with the meat rub. Using a mortar and a pestle, grind two tablespoons of black pepper and one tablespoon of coarse salt. Then rub this all over the raw lamb. With a filleting knife (skinny blade, sharp point), make a series of incisions each about 30mm deep into the ball of meat – usually four in a row along the length, with a distance of 50mm between each row. Into incisions 1 to 3, slide peeled half cloves of fresh garlic; into incisions 2 to 4, slip sections of fresh rosemary.

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Don’t be beguiled by the apparent accuracy of these instructions: they are there only as a guide. Deviate as you see fit.
Next, preheat the oven to 220°C. Place the lamb on a roasting pan and stick it in the very hot oven for 30 minutes to caramelise the blood sugars to create a crust. Then reduce the oven temperature to 160°C and let the meat roast for 15 minutes per 500g (a bit pink in the middle) or 20 minutes per 500g for a well done lamb roast.

Now for the next roasting principle: the resting period. Take the meat out the oven and leave it on the counter, out of the draught for 15 minutes before carving. This allows an even distribution of temperature and internal juices. While the meat is roasting, make a quick stock out of the sections of lamb bone using 1,2l of water, four sticks of celery, four carrots, one onion and a teaspoon of whole white peppercorns. Let this bubble away for 30 minutes or so, and then drain the pan and chuck out the used-up solids.

Gravy time. Remove the roasted lamb from the pan it was cooked in, and pour the lamb stock in. Place the roasting pan on the hob, add a tablespoon of flour as a thickening agent and stir it all up, taking care to collect the pan juices and traces of lamb that remain. A bit of salt to taste and the gravy is ready.

Vegetables – straightforward!

For the vegetables, you will need:
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup thick cream
The individual florets of 2 medium cauliflowers
8 florets broccoli
500g oyster mushrooms
1 cup Old Brown Sherry
5 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
Canola or sunflower oil
Salt and black pepper

Roast chunks of potatoes and butternut in the oven, with a serious drizzling of extra virgin olive oil. The rest of my labours were spent on the second collection of vegetables: oyster mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli. Blanch the florets of cauliflower and broccoli in boiling water for two minutes then remove and reserve. In a large frying pan, gently fry the oyster mushrooms in three tablespoons of canola oil for five minutes.

Add the finely chopped shallots and the thyme and let the contents fry until the mushrooms are brown and the shallots tender.
Add the florets of cauliflower and broccoli with the Old Brown Sherry and stir until the liquid is thickened. Add the cream, let it thicken for a couple of minutes, add the butter, switch off the heat and stir to coat all the vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with the roast lamb, roast potatoes and roast butternut. That’s it!

Contact David Basckin at
[email protected]. Please state ‘Real cooking’ in the subject line of your email.