August 12th, 2012

Very slow roasted leg of lamb, with stovetop carrots and tzatziki

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Another great one for winter. The butcher had some lovely “easy carve” legs of lamb (which means most of the bone has been removed), so this is what I tried. It would work just as well (or probably even better) with lamb shoulder or just some shanks.

This recipe is a conglomeration of years of messing about with roast lamb, slow cooked meat, and stovetop vegetables.

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To start: crush a big handful of parsley, mint and salt to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle, then add lots of garlic (10 cloves), one red chilli, then some olive oil to make a slurry.

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Rub the green mixture all over the lamb inside and out, grid over some black pepper, and place into a preheated 160°C oven for 4-5 hours.

Check and baste the lamb every hour or so. Lots of fat will collect in the bottom of the pan, and the skin will go crispy. If it gets too dark for your liking, cover with a loose bit of foil.

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About 45 minutes from serving, collect some of the lamb fat and juice in a small skillet. And add a sliced red onion, some roughly chopped carrots and mint. Cook over low heat (with a lid if possible), stirring and shaking the pan occasionally. The onions should caramelise, and the carrots will be dark and sticky.  Just before serving, give a squeeze of lemon to loosen the stuff stuck to the bottom, and add some extra fresh mint.

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The lamb needs to rest (out of the oven) under foil for 30 minutes or more before serving. Try and time the carrots around that. (You can see in this photo where i’ve peeled off some lamb to taste it: the lamb should be dark, sticky, and falling off the bone).

To serve, you will need some home made tzatziki. I tend to make tzatziki from memory now, and I can’t find the recipe that I used to use online anymore (it was by George Colombaris). I don’t have any step by step photos, but here it is from memory:

A Tzatziki recipe (quantities are very approximate)

  • 500g Yoghurt: hang in cheesecloth for at least 4 hours to thicken up. This is important!
  • 4 Lebanese cucumbers: peel them, grate them, salt them, and leave overnight or at least 3 hours to draw out the liquid
  • Garlic: crushed to a fine paste with a little salt
  • Finely chopped dill: a big handful
  • Finely chopped shallots
  • Very finely grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • A short drizzle of honey
  • A long drizzle of good quality olive oil
  1. Mix together the cucumber, dill and yoghurt. It should be quite thick with cucumber: more like a cucumber salad than a ‘dip’.
  2. Add the other ingredients to taste: more oil will make it smoother, more honey deeper, more cayenne warmer, more garlic and shallots sharper, more lemon livelier.
  3. It’s also really good if you leave it for a few hours before eating so the flavours can mingle.
Ok. Now that’s done, on with the meal…

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Serve the lamb and carrots with lemon wedges and tzatziki. Some pita bread would be good too.

This recipe also makes fantastic left-overs: delicious home-made souvlaki is really easy when you have the lamb and tatziki handy!

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