Monday, February 11, 2013

Roast Leg of Lamb with Lemon, Rosemary & Garlic

At the heart of any traditional British Sunday lunch is a delicious roast, served with crispy roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and lashings of gravy. And the crowning glory — a magnificent pud. Typically, roast beef, chicken or pork are the popular favourites, but a succulent leg of lamb must be one of the ultimate British classics, and this recipe for Roast Leg of Lamb with Lemon, Rosemary & Garlic makes the ideal centrepiece for a sensational Sunday lunch.

A lovely 6.5 lb leg of lamb

One of the secrets to this Roast Leg of Lamb is seasoning the meat with a marinade of minced garlic, chopped rosemary, anchovies, lemon zest and olive oil mashed into a paste using a pestle and mortar, then rubbed all over the surface of the lamb. Sprinkled with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, the leg is roasted at 350°F for 1 1/2 hours for medium rare.

Crushed garlic, chopped rosemary, anchovies, lemon zest and olive oil 
mixed together using a mortar and pestle, for the marinade

The leg is rubbed all over with the marinade, then sprinkled with salt and pepper

Roasted in a 350°F oven for 1 1/2 hours for medium-rare

Another key to a sensational lunch are all of the tasty trimmings, including a pile of golden, crispy and crunchy roast potatoes. My husband prides himself on having mastered the perfect roast spud. Peeled and cut into quarters or large coins, they're first parboiled for about 8 to 10 minutes then drained and roughed up a bit in the colander, which gives the 'roasties' their exquisitely crunchy exterior. Tossed with a little oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, the potatoes are roasted in a large baking pan with a knob or two of lard or duck fat for 50 to 60 minutes, turning them over once or twice so that they're perfectly golden and crispy all over.

Perfect roast potatoes

Market fresh brussels sprouts seasoned with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of butter

Enjoying a lovely bottle of wine with a special meal cannot be overstated. We splurged and enjoyed a 12 year old 2001 Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga d'Alba. Garnet red and well balanced, the wine was soft, velvety and full bodied. Well worth the wait.

A special treat - a full-bodied 2001 Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga d'Alba

The highlight of any traditional Sunday lunch is a classic 'pud' — especially so if it incorporates chocolate, cherries and cream. This decadent Cherry Chocolate Trifle inspired by Nigella Lawson incorporates cake, fruit and custard into one glorious trifle. With all the flavours of a Black Forest Gateau and very little effort, this dessert has become one of my favourite recipes of 2013.

Chocolate Cherry Trifle with whipped cream and shaved chocolate

We find that Sundays are the perfect time to plan long leisurely meals with friends and family, a free day when there's a little more time to spend puttering in the kitchen to prepare memorable feasts and spoil those who are nearest and dearest. 

Roast Leg of Lamb
Serves 6-8

6 1/2 lbs leg of lamb
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
4 anchovy fillets
1 tbsp olive oil 

1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. With the point of a knife, make small slits all over the leg of lamb. Combine the minced garlic, chopped rosemary, anchovies, lemon zest and olive oil and mash into a paste using a pestle and mortar. Rub the paste over the surface of the lamb and into all of the incisions. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Put the lamb in a roasting pan and place in the oven. Immediately reduce the heat to 350°F, and roast for 1 1/2 hours for medium-rare (150°) or medium (160°). The temperature will rise about 5°F while it rests. Cover the lamb with a foil tent, and let stand for 10 minutes before carving. Serve on warmed plates with brussels sprouts, roast potatoes and mint sauce

Mint Sauce
Serves 6-8

4 tbsp fresh mint leaves, rinsed and chopped
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp hot water
3 tbsp white wine vinegar

Mix the chopped mint, sugar, hot water and white wine vinegar in a small bowl, until the sugar has dissolved. Cover and set aside.

Perfect Crispy Roast Potatoes
Serves 6-8

4-1/2 lb Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes 
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp lard or duck fat
Maldon salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Peel the potatoes and cut them into egg-size chunks, then parboil them in boiling water for about 6-8 minutes, but stop before they're cooked right through. Drain them in a colander and leave to cool slightly before shaking them in the colander back and forth a few times to rough them up a bit, which will makes the edges crispy. Season with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the lard in a roasting pan and heat it in the oven until the fat is sizzling hot. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully add the potatoes in one layer, turning them carefully so they're coated all over. Roast for 45 minutes, turning gently at least once. If they look like they need a bit more browning, leave them in and turn up the heat slightly until they're golden brown and crispy. Before serving, drain well and season to taste with salt and a little pepper, and serve while they're hot. 

Chocolate Cherry Trifle
Serves 6-8
Modified by a recipe by Nigella Lawson

Nigella's original recipe uses homemade chocolate custard, which is delicious, but I used chocolate pudding in this version as I wanted a darker 'custard' for a more dramatic effect. Nigella's classic recipe can be found here.

1 chocolate pound cake, about 12 oz
1 cup 'Bonne Maman' cherry preserves
1 cup cherry brandy
3 cups sour cherries, drained

1 box Jell-O instant chocolate pudding
2 cups whole milk

1 500ml carton whipping cream, whipped
1 oz good quality Chocolate, grated

Slice the chocolate pound cake into thick pieces and spread generously with cherry jam, rather like making big jam sandwiches, then lay them in the bottom of a large trifle bowl, squishing the cake down to fit. Pour the cherry brandy over the cake. It will soak it all up and become lovely and moist. Then add half of the drained cherries, being sure to push some against the side of the bowl because that's what you'll see when the trifle is served. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave to macerate while you make the 'custard'.

In a large bowl, whisk together the jell-o instant chocolate pudding mix and 2 cups of cold whole milk for 2-3 minutes until the mixture thickens. Pour it over the chocolate cake layer in the trifle bowl, smoothing it with a spatula, then add the remaining cherries on top. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until you're almost ready to serve. Decorate with a big dollop of whipped cream and garnish with some good quality chocolate grated over top and serve. 

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