Lamb is my favourite meat. Lean, light and luscious, it marries beautifully with myriad ingredients and can be cooked in so many ways. This recipe is one I love to cook for friends and family because it is so simple and absolutely foolproof. A paste of aromatic, Moroccan-inspired spices coats the meat, permeating the lamb as it cooks, but not overpowering it. The lamb is enclosed in an oven bag so it is braised rather than roasted and this long, gentle, moist cooking results in very tender, very flavourful sweetly succulent meat. Hogget, slightly more mature lamb, is meat with more substance and greater complexity of flavour and it too responds admirably to this long, slow cooking. Lamb cooked long and slow will not be pink in the middle but it will be incredibly succulent and tender. Both leg and forequarter of lamb or hogget can be cooked this way. It is important to trim all visible fat from the lamb. The juices that collect inside the oven bag are not strained before being thickened to serve with the meat. A 2kg leg requires a large-sized oven bag.
2kg leg of lamb, trimmed of visible fat
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 plump cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sumac
2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly
2 tablespoons red wine
1 tablespoon cornflour
Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
With a sharp knife, cut deep small slits in the top and sides of the lamb.
Weigh the lamb and calculate cooking time. Allow 40 minutes per 500g for lamb and 50 minutes per 500g for hogget.
Combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, paprika, salt and sumac in a small bowl and mix to a smooth paste. With the back of a spoon or your fingers, rub the paste all over the lamb so that all of the meat is covered.
Put the lamb inside an oven bag and place in a roasting dish. Secure the bag and pierce several holes in the top of the bag to allow steam to escape. Bake the lamb in the preheated oven; a 2 kg leg of lamb will take 2 hours 40 minutes to cook. Once this time has elapsed, remove the lamb from the oven and split the oven bag open, allowing the juices to flow into the roasting dish.
Carefully transfer the lamb to a serving platter. Cover with foil and then a tea towel to keep the meat warm, and allow it to rest while you make the gravy.
Place the roasting dish containing the meat juices on the hob, bring to the boil and stir in the redcurrant jelly. In a small bowl mix together the red wine and cornflour until smooth then stir into the gravy. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for a couple more minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
Carve the lamb and serve with the gravy.
With the oven at such a low temperature, it is not possible to roast vegetables or successfully cook a gratin so I usually serve this with a puy lentil salad, couscous, or creamy mashed potatoes and a salad.
This recipe is published in A Southern Woman’s Kitchen by Joan Bishop (Longacre) and is published with kind permission.